How natural is homosexuality?

Homosexuality is found in over 450 species; homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?’

Spend long enough on social media, internet forums, or real-world Pride marches and you’re likely to come across the above meme in some form or another. Faced with opponents who denounce homosexuality as unnatural, it provides a pithy rejoinder to end an argument. It goes something like this: You think being gay is wrong because it’s against nature? Well, guess what? Even the birds and the bees do it.

This argument and its basis – the naturalness of homosexuality – have become the key motif of the gay-rights movement. Indeed, such is its prevalence that it now often dominates political discussion and popular culture. From the well-worn example of Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’, to the plaintive ‘I can’t change’ from the chorus of Macklemore’s pro-gay marriage song, ‘Same Love’, to a recent Australian TV advert in which a mother-to-be is informed at her ultrasound that she’s ‘having a lesbian’, the message is clear – you can’t help being gay.

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