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'.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting

£400 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting ...

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices