Why did nature give us homosexuality?

Homosexuality in animals is far from rare and homosexuality in humans is common. Yet, one is scientifically accepted and one is condemned, but both are naturally occurring. The world is changing its mindset, but can the animal kingdom shed some light on the origins of homosexuality?

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Credit: Flickr/Dorret

Recently, there has been a huge amount of exposure and controversy around the world surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. Outrage has followed the exposure of the Chechnya ‘camps’, the comments made by the President of the USA, Donald Trump, regarding transgender individuals in the military drew a frenzied response, and the death of Scout Schultz, an LGBT activist in Georgia, was shocking.

These people have committed no crime, yet they find themselves victimised and marginalised by the public. Often, clashes between the LGBTQ+ community and the alt-right result in physical, violent altercations as they are labelled as ‘unnatural’ and ‘an insult to God’ but, is there any truth to that?

Within the human population, it is estimated that up to 10% of individuals are non-heterosexual. That estimate varies depending on your source but, regardless, that is roughly 750 million people in the world.

“It seems illogical to condemn homosexual orientation as ‘unnatural’ when hundreds of species naturally exhibit it” – Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson

Alan Wilson is an ordained minister of the Church of England and has been the Bishop of Buckingham for nearly 15 years. He is also a highly-educated man having studied at both Cambridge and Oxford.

Bishop of Buckingham and author of More perfect union? Understanding same-sex marriage, Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson said:  “The Bible says nothing directly about this subject, its latest parts having been written almost 1800 years before the concept was first defined.”

Even a cursory glance at look at the animal kingdom will show that the condemnation of non-heterosexual individuals may be misplaced. Examples of homosexuality have been well known and well documented for decades, in hundreds of different species.

There is a book called Homosexual Behaviour in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective, in which the author writes: “Within a select number of species, homosexual activity is widespread and occurs at levels that approach or sometimes even surpass heterosexual activity.” Even textbooks are telling us that homosexuality is everywhere.

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Credit: Flickr/Whiterabbitart 

Examples include macaques, dwarf chimpanzees, dolphins and orcas. All exhibit some kind of homosexual tendencies. The reasons as to why homosexuality is common in many animal species are still up for debate.

When it comes to the ‘why’ academics tend to fall into one of two groups. One school of thought states that homosexual behaviours aid in successful reproduction as young adults ‘practice’ mating techniques etc.

The other theory is much simpler, animals have homosexual tendencies because, well because they jut are homosexual.

As inter-sex mating fails to improve the inheritance of heritable traits from one generation to the next, scientifically speaking, homosexuality doesn’t adhere to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

As natural selection relies on sexual competition to ensure that the heritable traits most primed to improve the reproductive success of a population, it is hard to see the practical benefits for homosexuality in nature.

That is to say, through the scope of science, homosexuality doesn’t make much sense.

But does that mean it isn’t natural? 

Well, it is widespread throughout different animals. Not only does it exist, it is common in both animals and humans.

“Various forms of sexual orientation and behaviour, including same-sex, can be found in hundreds of species. This rather implies it is not an acquired trait in humans alone,” Reverend Wilson adds.

Whilst there may be different views on homosexuality in both humans and animals, there must only be one view towards the treatment of these human beings.

“It seems illogical to condemn homosexual orientation as ‘unnatural’ when hundreds of species naturally exhibit it and however sexual differentiation and orientation are caused people would still, morally, be treated equally not discriminated against on the grounds of any protected characteristic named in the 2010 Equality Act,” concludes Mr Wilson.

To label people who identify as non-heterosexual as an abomination against nature is simply false. Through a variety of mechanisms and born from a range of situations, homosexuality permeates through the populations of thousands of species, and humans are just one on that lengthy list.

Do we know why homosexuality exists if it makes me scientific sense? No. Is it unnatural? Absolutely not.

The real question we should be asking is why is homosexuality such a problem for some people in this day and age? Science may never explain that mystery.

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