Dr Patrick Dixon, who runs an evangelical charity for Aids victims, said: 'Every new gene discovery brings closer the horror of eugenics - designer families for tomorrow's parents with embryos selected for intelligence, hair colour or sexual orientation.'
The Rev Tony Higton, the Church of England's leading campaigner against homosexual clergy, said: 'I am deeply concerned that this discovery might lead to selective breeding. What I'm really against is any discarding of human embryos at any stage.'
However, Mr Higton and Dr Dixon rejected the suggestion that a genetic explanation legitimised homosexual behaviour. 'I don't think this changes the moral question one iota,' Mr Higton said. 'To explain the origin of a tendency is not to justify the behaviour.'
Dr Dixon drew a comparison with genetically-carried crippling diseases such as cystic fibrosis. 'The Christian view is that the genes in themselves are morally neutral: the question is how we choose to live with them.'
Liberals, however, felt the discovery would lead to increased tolerance of homosexual behaviour.
Professor John Bowker, a former Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge, said that the discovery destroyed the argument that homosexuality was against nature. 'In terms of natural selection, there must have been some advantage to the human group as a whole for it to have survived. Perhaps it was an advantage to have not everyone preoccupied with breeding.'
The Rev Richard Kirker, leader of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said: 'It obviously makes our case infinitely easier to argue, but one does not want to become dependent on any one theory which may turn out to be inadequate or wrong.'Reuse content