In aggregate, all tested genetic variants accounted for 8 to 25% of variation in male and female same-sex sexual behavior, and the genetic influences were positively but imperfectly correlated between the sexes [genetic correlation coefficient (= 0.63; 95% confidence intervals, 0.48 to 0.78].
These aggregate genetic influences partly overlapped with those on a variety of other traits, including externalizing behaviors such as smoking, cannabis use, risk-taking, and the personality trait “openness to experience.” Additional analyses suggested that sexual behavior, attraction, identity, and fantasies are influenced by a similar set of genetic variants ( 0.83); however, the genetic effects that differentiate heterosexual from same-sex sexual behavior are not the same as those that differ among nonheterosexuals with lower versus higher proportions of same-sex partners, which suggests that there is no single continuum from opposite-sex to same-sex preference.
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Nevertheless, many uncertainties remain to be explored, including how sociocultural influences on sexual preference might interact with genetic influences.
To help communicate our study to the broader public, we organized workshops in which representatives of the public, activists, and researchers discussed the rationale, results, and implications of our study.
In the discovery samples (UK Biobank and 23and Me), five autosomal loci were significantly associated with same-sex sexual behavior.
Follow-up of these loci suggested links to biological pathways that involve sex hormone regulation and olfaction.