A new saliva test claims to be able to tell if males are straight or gay.
It works by uses clues from tiny modifications to a person’s genome, and has been called ‘quite interesting’ by scientists, but there are fears that a wider test sample will be needed before it can truly be called ground-breaking.
On male identical twins, the test is accurate 67% of the time, and is the first of its kind to be able to detect sexual orientation.
It obviously draws attention to the theory that being homosexual is, at least in part, down to genetics, with scientific theories pointing towards this for some time.
In 1993 a correlation was made by Dean Hamer’s team at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, that gay brothers shared a sequence of five genetic markers, with the latest discovery by Tuck Ngun and his team adding more weight to this.
The research is set to be unveiled on Thursday afternoon at a genetics conference in Baltimore, and will claim that when analysing five ‘epigenetic’ tags — chemicals that latch onto DNA and help turn genes on or off — the resulting algorithm can then predict sexuality.
Johnjoe McFadden, a molecular geneticist at the University of Surrey, UK, has called for caution, saying:
Studies that associate biomarkers with particular traits are notoriously prone to false positive results due to the tendency of these studies to find spurious associations that are down to sheer chance.
While the test has been widely criticised in many quarters for its reliability, there are other lingering worries that if it does turn out to be viable, the test will be used to ‘out’ gay people in countries where their sexuality will be used against them, and their lives could even be at risk.
Upon realising that, Ngun, who himself is gay, stated:
I just left the lab last week.
I don’t believe in the censoring of knowledge, but given the potential for misuse of the information, it just didn’t sit well with me.
Of course, on the other hand, it would also prove that sexuality is not a choice, and is a genetic thing that cannot be changed.