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Brussels DNA firm under fire for gay-determining app

16:57 22/10/2019

Senator Stephanie D’Hose (Open VLD) is the latest in a chorus of voices to express concern about a new app that claims it can determine how gay (or presumably straight) you are. The senator has asked that an investigation be opened into the app, called 122 Shades of Gray.

The Brussels DNA testing firm GenePlaza is under fire from scientists and the LGBTQI community for the app, which promises to determine the likelihood that you are gay when you send in a sample of your saliva, along with €5.50. The firm on Avenue Louise is using data based on a study published in the August issue of Science magazine.

The authors of the study themselves have written to GenePlaza to ask them to shut down the app or at least correct the information associated with it. “How gay are you?” said co-author Abdel Abdellaoui of Amsterdam University Medical Centre. “This app is not going to be able to tell you that.”

‘No predictive effect’

According to Abdellaoui, who spoke to NRC Handelsblad, the study made it very clear that, while a genetic component across the general population could be seen, “it does not have a predictive effect on an individual level”.

The queer community itself is worried that this kind of DNA testing could be used to infringe on human rights, especially in countries that imprisons gays or puts them to death. Harvard researcher Joseph Vitti has launched a petition to pressure GenePlaza to pull the app.

D’Hose, meanwhile, has asked federal labour minister Nathalie Muylle to open an investigation on the grounds that the consumer claims are false. “This application is using a nuanced study to earn fast money,” she told Bruzz. “They are creating the impression that there is such a thing as a ‘gay gene’, which the study says doesn’t exist.”

Photo: BlueCinema/Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw