Geneticist to fight against blood test for homosexuality: The American Association for the Advancement of Science

A SCIENTIST close to discovering a 'gay gene' yesterday said he would do everything in his power to stop the work being used to develop a blood test for homosexuality.

Dean Hamer, a geneticist at the National Cancer Institute in Washington DC, said he could be months away from finding the gene that appears to be linked with sexual orientation in some gay men.

Once the gene is found it would be possible to develop a test that could help detect carriers of the genetic trait. But Dr Hamer warned that if such a test were devised, it would be no more than 50 per cent accurate in identifying homosexuality; little better than relying on a toss of a coin.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, Dr Hamer said: 'People are worried that eventually someone - scientists, perhaps the military or insurance companies - might try to develop blood tests for sexual orientation, or a pre-natal test so that expectant mothers could abort a foetus at risk of being gay.'

He added: 'I think that would be wrong, unethical and a terrible abuse of the research. It's wrong to discriminate on the basis of genes.'

Dr Hamer said he would oppose the development of a blood test at every opportunity and would try to block companies that attempted to invent a test based on his work. 'We'll have the intellectual property rights for that work and that means we will be able to not give those rights to people who are likely to commercialise them.

'I've been informed that it is possible to take out a special type of legal thing, which is not a patent, saying basically I discovered this, certain applications are obvious, I claim the right to all such applications. If I could get such a document then of course I would not allow it to be used commercially.

'I would try to prevent any commercially available test of this work . . . I am going to do everything within my ability (to stop a test being developed).'

However, he admitted there was no guarantee he could stop companies from circumventing his opposition: 'I would hope it would slow it down. Ultimately it will be up to the expectant mothers.'

Dr Hamer said last July that he had found evidence of a genetic trait on the X chromosome - which men inherit from their mothers - linked to the sexuality of gay men. Further research has since supported the 'gay gene' theory.

Finding the gene was anywhere from two months to 20 years away. 'When we come closer to actually finding genes that are involved, the ethical quandaries are made much more real. This is not an issue that just affects some people. This is going to affect everybody. There are going to be genes for IQ, musical ability and the like.'

Dr Hamer said research into sexuality was important despite the ethical risks involved. 'We'd like to understand how the human mind works and how genes and the environment contribute to the wiring. Sexuality is a very important part of human behaviour . . .'

If the 'gay gene' was found it would be possible to try to work out what it did. One possibility was that it produced a protein or enzyme in the brain which led to differences in brain development between gay and straight men. Alternatively 'it could be there's a gene that makes (some) men self-reliant and not dependent upon the views of others'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine