DNA of Identical Twins Can Reveal Who's Gay

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The lead researcher of the controversial test, the first that claims to detect sexual orientation, quit over concerns it may be misused.

 

Researchers say they’ve come up with a formula to reveal someone’s sexual orientation usingDNA found in their saliva that is 67 percent accurate.

The study, presented Thursday to genetics experts meeting in Baltimore, traced the genetic changes in identical twins that when combined help determine whether someone is gay or straight. It’s the study first to claim a method to detect sexuality, reported Reuters.

“To our knowledge, this is the first example of a predictive model for sexual orientation based on molecular markers,” said Tuck Ngun, a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the study.

According to Gallup, about 3.8 percent of the adult U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Of course, the idea of a genetic test for sexuality raises concerns that someone might try to alter these epigenetic modifications to change a baby’s inherent orientation. Currently, there is no way to selectively change epigenetic patterns on DNA, although the technology is being developed.

These concerns over the potential misuse of the test led the study’s lead researcher to quit the project entirely, and many scientists have expressed caution over the results, including Ngun himself.

He, too, worries the test has the potential to be used and abused. “I’m gay,” he told New Scientist, “and I’ve always wondered why I am the way I am. But once you have this information, you can’t control how it’s used or disseminated.”

From the moment a child is conceived and all through a person’s life, genetic changes occur, and they can be handed down from generation to generation. These are called epigenetic changes. The underlying code remains unaltered, but how a gene is expressed — how it works — that’s what changes.

At an American Society of Human Genetics meeting in Baltimore, Ngun stated that he studied epigenetic changes called methylation in 47 pairs of male twins. Identical twins have the same underlying DNA, but the epigenetic changes can make big differences in what happens to them later in life.

In 37 of the twin pairs, one brother was homosexual and the other wasn’t. In 10 pairs, both brothers were gay.

Dr. Margaret McCarthy, who studies the developing brain at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement that this study provides more evidence we were indeed “born this way:”

“Developing male fetuses produce very high quantities of testosterone during the second trimester and this directs psychosexual development along masculine lines, a component of which is preference for females as sexual partners.

“This study provides a major step forward in our understanding of how the brain can be affected by factors outside of the genome. It is also possible that the experience of being a homosexual or a heterosexual has itself impacted the epigenetic profile. But regardless of when, or even how, these epigenetic changes occur, their findings demonstrate a biological basis to partner preference.”

Other experts said Ngun may be going too far in saying he can predict someone’s sexual orientation by looking at his or her genes, given that his study group was very small.

Since the associations have not yet been tested in a completely independent study population, the results should be considered no more than suggestive, caution experts. There needs to be verification before any firm conclusions can be drawn, according to Johnjoe McFadden, a molecular geneticist at the University of Surrey, U.K.

Ngun is optimistic his findings may lead to bigger discoveries:

“Sexual attraction is such a fundamental part of life, but it’s not something we know a lot about at the genetic and molecular level. I hope that this research helps us understand ourselves better and why we are the way we are.”

Law professor condemns UK silence on gay 'hate speech'

Leonardo Raznovich speaks to International Bar Association

http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2015/10/12/Law-professor-condemns-UK-silence-on-gay–hate-speech-/

Carson suggests LGBT families are ‘not of the same value’

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Ben Carson said all families are “not of the same value.” (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Impressing the need for family values, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Wednesday different families are “not of the same value” in terms of raising children.

The former neurosurgeon was responding to a question during a Sirius XM radio interview about single parent birth rates and didn’t explicitly mention same-sex parents, but his words in favor of “intact, traditional families” could be interpreted as being directed toward LGBT people.
“We’ve got to stop paying attention to the PC police who say every lifestyle is exactly of the same value,” Carson said. “No, it’s not of the same value. It is very clear that intact, traditional families with traditional, intact values do much better in terms of raising children. So let’s stop pretending that everything is of equal value.”
Carson said young single mothers need the opportunity to finish their education and when they have children out of wedlock “most of the time their education ends with that first baby.”

“And those babies are four times as likely to grow up in poverty, end up in the penal system or the welfare system,” Carson said. “You know, I’m not making this stuff up. That’s well-documented. That’s a problem.”
Carson, who’s polling in second-place just after Donald Trump in many polls on Republican candidates, is an opponent of same-sex marriage.
In addition to making to comments against gay rights throughout his candidacy, he has signed a pledge with the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage expressing support for a constitutional amendment against the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.
The Carson campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment to deny the remarks on lifestyle were intended to include same-sex parents.
TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said Carson’s comments represent the discriminatory views of all Republican presidential candidates.
“Love makes a family, period,” Helmstetter said. “The sooner the Republican candidates for president learn that, the better off all Americans will be. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and the others – they’re so stuck in their ways, they can’t see that the country has moved beyond the divisive culture wars of the past. Americans want to hear positive visions for the middle class, but Republicans like Carson, Trump, and Bush are too busy finding new ways to insult women, LGBT people, immigrants, single mothers, Asian Americans, and even shooting victims. When will it end?”

– See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/10/08/carson-suggests-lgbt-families-are-not-of-the-same-value/#sthash.Ae9qjDBV.dpuf

Iris Prize Festival: Welsh Rugby Union throws full support behind LGBT short film festival

As excitement about the Rugby World Cup reaches fever pitch in Cardiff, the organisers of an LGBT short film festival feare their event would be left in the shadows.

Instead they find themselves “hand in hand” with the sport’s biggest competition after the Welsh Rugby Union threw its full support behind the Iris Prize Festival, saying it was “right and proper” that the two events were celebrated in the Welsh capital at the same time.

The festival, which offers a £30,000 prize, the largest award for a short film festival, has embraced its sporting rival. It opened on Wednesday with the documentary Scrum, which is about competitors in the Bingham Cup, the international gay rugby world cup.

About 50 rugby players, including sportsmen from Australia and Canada, attended the Iris opening night. John Williams, Welsh Rugby Union’s head of communications, joined festival director Berwyn Rowlands and chairman Andrew Pierce for the start of the five-day event which closes today, when the prize is handed to one of 30 competing films.

“If feels right, it is right, it should be right and both of these events are going to be massively successful,” Mr Williams said. “We believe in the cause that’s represented by the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff. We understand its importance; inclusivity is a must.”

Mr Pierce, a columnist and consultant editor for the Daily Mail, described Mr Williams’s address as “a very powerful, charming heartfelt” speech. He also hailed the influence of rugby role models such as referee Nigel Owens, who is gay, and former Wales captain Gareth Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009.

“Having the Welsh Rugby Union at the opening was fantastic. Here we are in our ninth prize with the blessing of the Welsh Rugby Union, and the city is full of rugby fans.”

Mr Rowlands will today also announce a £247,000 grant from the Big Lottery that will allow the organisation to expand all over Wales in a three-year project, working with local communities to fight homophobia.

Cooper's gay dads both want to be Darth Vader in an adorably geeky new ad

By

Patrick Kulp

When both of your parents are men, it’s only natural that there be the occasional bout of friendly fatherly competition.

That’s what happens in a new ad for a Star Wars-themed line of Campbell’s soups in which two dads each make the case to their toddler son that they can do a better Darth Vader impression than the other.

“Cooper, I am your father,” says one dad before his partner interjects: “No, no, no I am your father.”

Cooper doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other, and one of his two dads eventually settles for the role of wookiee sidekick.

It’s a clever conceit, and the soup giant’s “Made for Real, Real Life” tagline drives the spot home with the message that none of this should be considered at all out of the ordinary (except for perhaps even more “real”?).

Now that gay marriage is the law of the land and market research dispatches have declared that prized millennials generally like diversity, brands are eager to flaunt their tolerance, and the interplay of same-sex couples and their kids makes for lots of aww-inducing ways to do so.

Honeymaid, DirectTV, Cheerios, Esurance and plenty of other big corporations have all featured gay couples prominently in the past few years.

It seems advertisers have even become comfortable enough with the diversity of American families to begin mapping out the distinct foibles and gag opportunities inherent to everyday life in a same-sex households.

It’s a far cry from just two decades ago, when the first-ever U.S. TV spot depicting a gay couple — innocuously shopping at Ikea — attracted boycotts, crowds of protesters, hundreds of fuming letters and phone calls and even a false bomb threat at a Hicksville, New York store.

The new Campbell’s ad is naturally not without its share of ideological detractors, but, in a sign of progress, it seems that more people were offended by the terrible imitations of Darth Vader rather than seeing two gay dads, having a nice morning with their son.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments

Ten Ways To Come Out As Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Trans

the-gay-uk-logoBy The Gay UK, Oct 11 2015 09:31AM

 

 

We asked readers and our writers for their top tips for coming out. Everybody’s experience for coming out will be different, what works for one person might not work for someone else, but hopefully at least one of these tips will help you in the process of coming out.

1) Only come out if it is what you want to do. If you feel pressured into coming out, remember that it has to be your decision. It is a big decision to make in your life and the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with what you are doing.
2) Treat it like a bandaid and just tear it off. Quick and almost painless. Just tell them, quickly, confidently and get it over with.
3) Don’t approach the situation like you’re about to announce you’re terminally ill. Body language and the tone of your voice will play a massive role in how people react to what you’re saying.
4) Do it the way you most feel comfortable! I told my Dad by letter, but my friends mainly face to face…it just got easier the more I did it.
5) Speaking to a helpline, like Switchboard – first, if you’re not sure what to say. Talking with a counsellor or helpline can help you find the words you need to describe what you’re feeling.
6) If you’re not sure how to bring it up, casually talk about a celebrity’s recent coming out like Tamal Ray or Apple’sTim Cook and gauge the reaction before going any further.
7) If you don’t get the reaction you expect, don’t be put off. You will get some negative reactions, but that is their problem not yours. The amount of positive reactions will far outweigh the negative ones.
8) It’s not an all or nothing deal. You don’t HAVE to tell everyone all at once. Start off with one person and let it grow organically from there.
9) Don’t apologise.
10) There is no right or wrong way to come out. It should be a tailor-made experience, as individual as you are

Gay blood donation: Thirty men turned down over sex ban

 

 

 

 

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The NIBTS has stopped 30 men from donating blood at their clinics since 2011 after they said they had sexual contact with other men

 

Thirty men have been stopped from donating blood at clinics in Northern Ireland because they have had sexual contact with another man, a BBC investigation has found.

Elsewhere in the UK, there is a one-year deferral period for men who have had sex with men (MSM) to donate.

Northern Ireland has an outright ban.

But a judge ruled that former health minister Edwin Poots did not have the power to retain that ban. His ruling will be appealed in court later.

In the Northern Ireland Appeal Court on Monday, the current on-off health minister, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Simon Hamilton, is appealing the judgement, alongside Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

They shall be asking who is in charge of blood policy and whether or not this is a devolved issue. The appeal is expected to last four days.

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Following a Freedom of Information request, BBC News NI has seen emails sent between Northern Ireland’s Department of Health and the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS), which is responsible for the collection, testing and distribution of blood.

The NIBTS also said it had stopped 30 men from donating blood at their clinics since 2011 after they informed staff that they had sexual contact with other men.

The BBC asked the NIBTS how confident it would be that its blood is screened correctly and that it would be safe for MSM to donate after the one-year deferral period.

It said: “All blood donations are subjected to the testing regimes required by the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005.

“As such, NIBTS is confident that all blood samples are screened correctly.”

Direction

The BBC has also seen instructions sent to the NIBTS from Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, the deputy chief medical officer, instructing the organisation how to respond if approached by the media about the ban remaining in place.

Dr Kieran Morris, the former chief executive of the NIBTS, replied showing some concern about the process and how he would answer questions from his own staff.

“As chief executive officer and accountable officer for the NIBTS special agency service, I require from the Department of Health a written direction, giving me a clear line as to how we manage and control the situation,” he said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that referring all matters to the Department of Health press office will not be sustainable for more than a few days.”

Edwin PootsImage copyrightPAcemaker
Image captionEdwin Poots, the former health minister, said he kept the ban on the basis of ensuring public safety

A BBC investigation earlier this year found the Department of Health does not have any medical evidence of its own to support a permanent ban on gay men donating blood.

The ban was put in place across the UK during the Aids crisis of the 1980s, but was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.

Irrational

New rules were introduced that allowed blood donations from men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than a year earlier.

But Northern Ireland did not follow suit.

A gay man, granted anonymity due to his perceived vulnerability, launched a judicial review challenge over then health minister Edwin Poots’s decision not to adopt the same policy on this side of the Irish Sea.

A judge ruled that Mr Poots’ decision was “irrational” and “infected with apparent bias”.

Mr Poots said he had kept the ban on the basis of ensuring public safety.

In April, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a lifetime ban may be justified in member states if no effective detection techniques exist within the country.

Devolved

The ECJ said countries must establish if such donors were at high risk of acquiring infectious diseases like HIV.

Mr Hamilton said he would study the ruling.

A number of issues will be looked at in the Court of Appeal, including whether blood policy should be a devolved matter.

The appeal is expected to last for four days.

The NIBTS did not respond to the BBC to give an additional comment.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “It would not be appropriate at this stage to comment on matters that are before the courts.”

Happy National Coming Out Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First celebrated in 1988, National Coming Out Day has been observed every October 11 for more than 25 years. In the United States, 2015 has been a year of huge change, from the legalization of same-sex marriage to the unprecedented visibility of trans people. Had people in our community not come out, none of this would have been possible. It takes knowing LGBT people, talking with them, loving them, for society at large to understand and embrace us.

One day, it may not be necessary for us to come out, but until that point, coming out is a hugely important—and hugely nerve wrecking—moment in any LGBT person’s life. In this age of YouTube, many have taken to the internet, not only to get it done with in one swift motion, but also to help make it easier for young people struggling with their sexual and/or gender identities. Here are some of the biggest and most influential coming out videos:

Austin and Aaron Rhodes: 20.5 million views

Ingrid Nilsen: 12.5 million views

Tom Daley: 11.6 million views

Connor Franta: 9.4 million views

Troye Sivan: 5.9 million views

Ellen Page: 5.3 million views

Joey Graceffa: 5.8 million views

Lucas Cruikshank: 4.7 million views

Gigi Gorgeous: 3 million views

StoryCorps Releases Hopeful, Pre-Stonewall Story for National Coming Out Day

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As part of StoryCorps’ OutLoud initiative to gather LGBTQ stories across America, Patrick Haggerty recalls talking with his father about being gay in rural Dry Creek, Washington, in the late 1950s.

The groundbreaking oral history project StoryCorps released the animated short “The Saint of Dry Creek” in partnership with the It Gets Better Project today as part of the OutLoud initiative to document the stories of LGBTQ people across America. In the story, Patrick Haggerty remembers the advice his father, a dairy farmer in rural Dry Creek, Wa., gave him when, in the late 1950s, he realized his son was gay.

OutLoud documents the powerful, varied experiences of LGBTQ people. The initiative honors the stories of those who lived before the 1969 Stonewall uprisings, celebrates the lives of LGBTQ youth, and amplifies the voices of those most often excluded from the historical record.

“We’ve recorded 700 interviews with 1500 people in the last year,” Isay tells Out. “I am surprised again and again how important these interviews are to the participants, and how powerful the stories are, and how little there is in the public record about life pre-Stonewall, especially in small towns and red states, like in this recent story. They rip my heart out—and inspire me—again and again. “

The end result of OutLoud will be a diverse collection of stories that will enrich our nation’s history.StoryCorps launched OutLoud in 2014 on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the riots, in memory of StoryCorps founder Dave Isay’s father, the renowned psychiatrist and early advocate for marriage equality Dr. Richard Isay, who came out to Dave when he was 22 and Richard was 52. More information about OutLoud, and interviews collected for the initiative, can be found atStoryCorps.org/outloud/.

StoryCorps and the It Gets Better Project released this animated story for National Coming Out Day. See more StoryCorps.org/animation/

 

 

Transgender woman targeted with a PIPE BOMB ‘for being LGBT

 

 

Pipe Bomb

 

Police are investigating after a trans woman’s home was bombed in Northern Ireland.

27-year-old Rachael Keys of Derry/Londonderry was forced out of her home after the incident on Saturday.

A pipe bomb that had been left on her windowsill exploded, shattering the window and showering her with glass.

Ms Keys, who luckily escaped without serious injury, told Belfast Live that police believe she was targeted for being trans.

She said: “I am a member of the LGBT community. The police feel that I may have been attacked because of that reason.”

Five homes were evacuated after the bombing, with families forced to seek shelter in a local community centre.

Ms Keys added: “I was just watching TV in my living room. Suddenly the window came through, there was glass everywhere and there was a big bang and a flash. I was covered in glass.

“To be honest I was completely dazed, I didn’t know what was happening. It scared the life out of me. I just ran out of the house screaming to my neighbours.

“I didn’t even have time to lift my poor cat, Jessie, who was sleeping in the bedroom. I was terrified, shaking, upset.

She continued: “The police came and cordoned the place off and evacuated us all to the community centre. I was totally dazed.

“One of my neighbours is epileptic and I was really worried about her not being able to get her medication. Another neighbour has a child who is autistic, another is a pensioner. It was awful for them. Just awful.

“We all had to sleep in the community centre overnight. I was distraught. Someone gave me a tablet to help calm me down and help me sleep. I didn’t sleep though.”

A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer told the newspaper: “We are lucky that no one was injured by this device, or by the window smashing.

“This is being treated as a sectarian hate crime and I would appeal to anyone with any information about this incident to contact detectives at Strand Road police station on the non-emergency number 101.”