- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

PARIS (Agence France-Presse) The more older brothers a boy has the likelier he is to be a homosexual, according to a theory aired in the British weekly New Scientist.
A Canadian researcher has found that boys with a statistical average of 2.5 older brothers are twice as likely to be homosexual as boys with no older brother, while a boy with four older brothers is three times as likely to be homosexual.
The study, published in a specialist journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior, was led by Ray Blanchard, a psychologist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
Mr. Blanchard broke ground in gender science a few years ago when he noticed a strong link between homosexuality and older brothers in a group of 302 homosexual white men.
His notion was at first ridiculed but is now accepted by many in his field, and other studies have taken this idea further, suggesting that the link exists regardless of culture, New Scientist says.
Why there should be this association is not clear, the journal says.
One idea is that male fetuses trigger a response in the mother's immune system through an antigen, H-Y, that only exists in males and is believed to play a role in sexual differentiation.
It could be that, among some women, these H-Y antigens unleash a surge of maternal antibodies which then affects the organization of the fetus' brain at a critical early stage of its development, he suggests.
No similar link has ever been found between lesbians and older sisters.
The research raises intriguing questions, the New Scientist article says.
"If Blanchard is right, then clearly, as average family size decreases, so will the incidence of male homosexuality.
"It also follows that historically there have been more gay men that there are today."
At the same time if this theory is right conservative religious groups such as Catholics and Mormons, which are traditionally hostile to homosexuality, may have more homosexuals proportionately than other sects, because they encourage large families.

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