Gay mutation effects reversed by drug – in mice!

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.

0 thoughts on “Gay mutation effects reversed by drug – in mice!

  1. Pingback: Friday Highlights | Pseudo-Polymath

  2. This is a very interesting topic. And I have wondered if there was a medical way to reverse homosexual tendencies. I am a very religious Christian who was taught that having those tendencies is not a sin but acting on them is. For those who have such tendencies but believe against acting on them, this might be a miraculous achievement if it could be applied to humans. But in all cases perhaps even these types of people believe God made them that way. Not calling homosexuality a mental/physiological disorder, but those who have such disorders, often take medication to balance them. Also, another note, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, a psychologist considered homosexuality a disease, but his theories were rebutted by Freud and Ellis with more “accepting stances”. I would like to see these findings conitnue with more testing and proof.

  3. Thank you, Heather. I am sure many people are happy with their sexual orientation. But there might be others who would like to change theirs, in one direction or the other, and who might seek drug treatment that could stimulate such a change, if and when it is available. There are of course some serious ethical issues here. Another issue might be that similar drug treatment might stop people being pedophiles or having other unacceptable sexual preferences. There is clearly scope for research here, which should be purely scientific and kept separate from issues of political correctness.

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