According to a BBC report, male mice can be bred to have homosexual tendencies by introducing a mutation, a genetic modification, which disables production of a chemical, serotonin, in their brains. And the effect of this mutation can be reversed by injecting that same chemical into their brains.
Now the BBC report is careful to avoid words like “gay” and “mutation”. It also highlights in the sidebar these words of a neuroscientist:
Any potential links between serotonin and human sexual preferences must be considered somewhat tenuous.
No doubt the BBC doesn’t want to create a storm by suggesting that homosexuals might be mutants who can be cured by drug treatment. Nevertheless, there is a real possibility that future research might show that a link between homosexual orientation in humans and specific genetic characteristics – I will now avoid value-laden words like “abnormalities” and “mutations”. This research might well also show a chemical means by which this orientation can be changed – again I avoid “treated” and “cured”.
What would the consequences of this be?
On the one hand, it would justify the gay lobby’s insistence that sexual orientation is a real organic characteristic of some people, and not just a psychological condition or a lifestyle choice. It could in principle be possible to test the expected orientation of children and, more controversially, of adults not openly gay.
On the other hand, this would allow people with homosexual tendencies the option of becoming “straight” by chemical means. Conservative groups such as churches might well encourage gay people to undergo this treatment. I would see that as a good thing if presented properly. The danger would come if people were effectively obliged or manipulated into changing their sexuality.
Of course all of this is speculation. For the moment all that is known is that this applies to mice. Also the mutation that was induced is just one of potentially many factors which could cause homosexual behaviour. More probably, in humans, homosexual orientation is linked to a complex combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. This would mean that there might be some partial “treatments” but no foolproof way of changing one’s orientation. But the controversy about such matters is unlikely to go away.