Will homosexuality dissapear?

Lately, this question has been keeping me up late at night. If genetic engineering is refined to the level where parents can ‘design’ their children, will homosexuality be bred out of the human population?

In my opinion, three things could hopefully prevent this:

i) It becomes known sometime in the future that the genetic component of homosexuality is a polygenic trait (determined by many different genes) and therefore too difficult to eliminate.

ii) Governments pass laws limiting what characteristics can and cannot be engineered, and a prohibition against predetermining sexual orientation is introduced.

iii) By the time the technology to engineer a child is perfected, humanity, or at least a good portion of humanity, has either a) come to accept and embrace homosexuality or b) reject the engineering of children.

What do you all think of these possibilities? Are any of them likely? Is there anything I’ve missed? Or are gays and lesbians destined to disappear?

I would hope that engineering would be used only to eliminate diseases (if possible).
I kindof like the old fashioned natural way of having a child.

i would lean towards homosexuality being a polygenic trait. Obviously the genetics of homosexuality are very complicated or straight people wouldnt be having gay children and vise versa. However i’m not the best person to ask on this subject. I just hope not. That would remove so much of the diversity that makes life interesting. ;j

(Well without this technology) some of my gay friends say that Heterosexuality will be a thing of the past… that old story of everyone being homo and bi deep down. Some kind of pink paradise of the future… no limits on sex ID.

Well I’ll keep trying to be a only hetero for now thou…

I agree. However, it’s not a very big step from using engineering to eliminate disease to using it to set more superficial characteristics.

Just out of curiosity, and in pure reflex to the word “hopefully” in the OP, what positive traits are incorporated in homosexuality that we have to avoid losing? It’s pretty self-evident to me that social acceptance (or at least tolerance) is desirable so long as homosexuality continues to occur naturally, but if it became possible to eliminate homosexuality through genetic engineering, why should it be blocked or discouraged? Do homosexuals have some kind of objective genetic advantage, or something? Is the contribution made by homosexuals greater than could be made by heterosexuals?

Just for the record, this has been debated before.

I think there’s a lot of reason to think, based on links posted in that thread, that engineering homosexuality away wouldn’t be possible. And since I recall a number of people assuming homosexuality was disadvantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, there is also discussion about the advantages it can provide, Bryan.

Its only my opinion, and I think Bryan’s question cannot today be answered in any objective sense due to the highly charged nature of the debate surrounding homosexuality, but I believe that yes homosexuals do bring to the table something valuable: difference. The simple act of being different is a good thing in the long run for society, because those who can see outside the box are the ones most likely to see its flaws. The white people who stood up with black people differed from other white folk because they could see the racism largely invisible to the whole. Its pretty well known that many of the people who would later become gay rights activists started out as activists against racism. There are many things which can set you outside the box, but a group of people who by nature (a turn of phrase. I refuse to weigh in on genetics versus environment) are set outside the majority can be a good gadfly and check for society.

Look, after all, at the Native American tribes who believed homosexuals to be blessed. They recognized the value in such people who could see society beyond itself, who approached the world in ways different from those around them. Shamans, witch doctors, whatever… they filled a vital role in the social structure.

Also, I am opposed to tinkering with genetics because we are referring to a highly complex chain of mutual causes and effects that are hard to determine until they fail to happen. By eliminating a class that nature doesn’t seem to have eradicated in the past, we are playing with unknown consequences. Does that homosexual gene or sequence of genes also contain some as-yet-unknown positive piece? How do we find out before yanking the thing out? I would apply this to a lot of “cosmetic” genetic tinkering. Obviously, if someone is going to die anyway because of a genetic defect its hard to think of a downside worse so I’m ambivalent there.

Third, why should one even eliminate homosexuality? What, ultimately, is the point in such a pursuit? It doesn’t seem to be decreasing the birth rate in countries at all, and one could even say that in today’s world of overcrowding, certain countries could benefit by having more homosexuals in the population. If one is going to tinker with genetic code that is incredibly complex, one must show significant demonstrable harm caused by that trait. The parents having a hissy fit over a “fag” child is not caused by the trait, but by the parents’ opinions and upbringing. In the end, it seems like an extreme waste of effort on a complex structure with no tangible motivation behind it, only bigotry and fear.

I should clarify my last comment to Bryan Ekers. What I meant was “because some people in the thread I linked to made the assumption that homosexuality was an evolutionary disadvantage, other posters made comments that pertain your question,” not that I thought you were necessarily making that assumption. I do also agree with Priam that diversity is a good thing in and of itself, thus the differences of some are an advantage to everyone.

I apologize profusely in advance for nitpicking, and I would just have emailed you if you’d set your profile to allow other Dopers to send you email, but…

I like your posts, and realize that English may not be your first language, but one thing stops me cold in many of your posts. Allow me:

“Thou” - rhymes with “cow” - a pronoun, considered somewhat archaic, the formal version of “you” - “Thou shalt not kill.”

“Though” - rhymes with “go” - a short version of “although”

Otherwise, keep up the good posting!

Just as valid a question: if genetic engineering advances 'till babies can be manipulated as products, will heterosexuality “dissapear”?

This will be a technology that changes civilizations, particularly their attitudes toward sex and reproduction. In a world where you could make your child a photosynthetic supergenius hermaphrodite, would being ‘gay’ really be a trait anyone would care about either way? The people who would want to avoid a gay child (e.g., Catholics and other hardcore People of the Book) are the ones who wouldn’t engage in genetic alteration anyway.

Hmm, just as most parents will, in the future, probably not be hermaphrodites, what makes you think they will want their children to be? Where do you see this great urge and desire for hermaphroditism? Most parents want their children to be able to adapt comfortably to a ‘normal’ social environment and since hermaphrodites in our society often have hard time doing just this, what makes you think it will be any easier or any different in the future?

After the first wave of hermaphrodites, I could potentially hypothetically see this, after all there would be a high security of similar peers and adults, although my bet is that the parents would still want the children easily relatable to their own experiences, but where are you going to get that first wave in the first place? Maybe among some fringe groups, but in general I find that idea highly unlikely.

The best analogy for how genetic engineering in the futue will be handled is plastic surgery today. Plastic surgery was initially developed for burn victims and as such most people favored its development (like g.e. today is favored for similar life threatening illnesses), however the very wealthy were soon able to afford plastic surgery for nonmedical expenses and see it as a luxery, this ability has slowly drifted down to be a reachable dream for most of the Middle Class.

And what do people want with plastic surgery? To make themselves look completely different? Some, yes, but most simply want to accentuate those traits that were already favored in society, i.e. society appreciated ample bosoms, plastic surgery made cartoonishly ridiculous breasts possible, our society favored women on the thinner side, liposuction and other advances made walking caricatures like Twiggy and her ilk possible for the very wealthy, so, probably, in the future people will want attributes admired among natural elites, but more so to a cartoonish degree.

Like people with romantic passion? Nymphomaniacs can be designed with uncontrollably powerful need for frequent sexual intercourse.

Like macho men? Men can be tailored who make Rambo look like the absent minded professor.

It’s going to a wild and weird world our children grow up in!

Yo Myles. Don’t you want your children to have all the things you didn’t as a lad? (har.)

Seriously, folks. I said “could be hermaphrodites etc.” I was deliberately creating the most off-the-wall example possible to demonstrate, as you said, the youth of today are headed for a truly fucked-up world where being gay will be outright dull. I always forget that my brand of deadpan doesn’t work online (and my religion forbids emoticons).
Excellent SF book Schismatrix, by Bruce Sterling, details some possible weirdness that could result. Highly recommended if you like that kind of thing.

Are we even certain yet that homosexuality is entirely genetic?

I would have thought that a sufficient proportion of humanity already accept homosexuality, or reject genetic engineering. Am I too optimistic/pessimistic?

Another point is how it would work: if a doctor put me on the spot and said “Hetero or homo?” I might just go for ‘hetero’ as a default, I’m not sure. If he said ‘do you want to choose, or just let whatever happens naturally happen’ I’d of course say ‘just let it happen.’

No. That’s why I said a ‘component’.


I think many of the people who accept it do so simply because they have to. If they could avoid it…? And remeber, more than half of Americans think that homosexual sex should still be illegal.


I’m really glad to hear this. I hope most would give the same answer, but I’m not sure that they would. Many, many people who have homosexual friends or workmates and get along with gays in their day to day life would be DEVESTATED if one of their own children turned out the be gay. Hence, they might latch on to anything to try and make sure that doesn’t happen.

according to the Bible, no. it says the last days will be like sodom (the root of the word “sodomy”) and gomorrah. one of my teachers actually thinks everyone will be gay at some point in the last days, but i don’t really agree with that.

bo989, I think all of your points will come into play. The genes for sexuality would be so hard to find, and the margin of error would be so large, that it probably wouldn’t be worth the research funding to locate the genes anyway (at least, not until everything else has been found, which is even further in the future).

Personally, I see more* bi*sexuality in the long-term future. As acceptance of homosexuality becomes more widespread, people will be less inclined to stick labels on their desires, and will love who they wish to love. There will still be some who are totally straight or gay, but that will no longer be the norm.

There would be advantages to this bisexuality (re: Brian’s question): a much larger pool of potential lovers and life-partners, and more chance of finding someone suited to you (in theory, anyway!)

I think 'possum raises the most interesting point: most of those who are “against” homosexuality would also be opposed to genetic engineering. Why? Because God meant for us to be a certain way and genetic engineering tinkers with the will of God. Thus, I’m not absolutely certain whether demand for such a procedure would be as overwhelming as one first thinks.

Also, the simple fact that it can be genetically altered would take a substantial amount of wind out of religious condemnation. “God does not create junk” is the line I was taught. If homosexuality is not a trait chosen or imbedded by one’s environment, God must’ve meant for us to do something with it. I believe Catholicism uses the term “intrinsically disordered”, but if its a gene God put there then it can’t be disordered.

:smack: So you did. Sorry. Well, let me rephrase: it may be possible that even if all ‘gay genes’ are eliminated, some people would be gay. Maybe not, but it’s a possibility you didn’t list.

Well, I wouldn’t count ‘because they have to’ as accepting.

Actually, no, I didn’t know that. I’ll go and be depressed about the human race now. But even if there were, say, a tenth as many gay people as now, it could still survive, I hope.

I think I was just being overly optimistic; I’ll take your word for it, and get back to you when I have kids.

Perhaps I’m actually being too pesimistic, but the data isn’t encouraging. There has been a significant backlash against the gay rights movement ever since the Supreme Court ruled against sodomy laws.

Specifically, a Gallup poll before the ruling showed that 60% of Americans believed gay sex should be legal and that gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights as heterosexually married couples.

Another Gallup poll conducted after the ruling showed a startling reversal: Only 48% of Americans now believe sexual relations between consenting adults of the same gender should be legal, while 46% percent believe it should be illegal.

What’s worse, is that these polls also often reveal a significant poll of the population believes homosexuals should be denied basic rights such as equal access to job opportunities.