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Joseph Vitti’s stomach turned when he opened a link an acquaintance had sent him. It took him to an app called ‘How Gay Are You?’ that purported to gauge a person’s level of attraction to others of the same sex, according to their genes.

The app’s creator, Joel Bellenson, a US entrepreneur living in Kampala, Uganda, based the test on the findings of a massive study on the genetics of same-sex sexual behaviour — even though the analysis, published in Science in August, concluded that a person’s genes cannot predict their sexuality1.

Vitti, a computational geneticist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, thinks the app was misleading — even dangerous. “There are vulnerable queer people all over the world,” says Vitti, “and this app stands to hurt them.” On 11 October, he started an online petition to remove the test. Within two weeks, more than 1,660 people had signed it.

Bellenson says the idea that his test could endanger people is an “absurd scenario” and notes that the test included a disclaimer that it could not predict same-sex attraction.... see more