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Researchers ask ‘what makes us gay?’ at Battle of Ideas 2012

Dr Qazi Rahman from Queen Mary, University of London will debate the controversial issue of choice in sexuality, alongside leading British thinkers at the Battle of Ideas festival 2012.

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Dr Qazi Rahman
Dr Qazi Rahman

On Sunday 21 October, he will join a panel which includes Wes Streeting, former National Union of Students President and current Head of Education at lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall.

When former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon suggested in an interview that she had chosen to be a lesbian, there was outcry from many gay-rights campaigners who are fighting for equal-rights on the basis that homosexuality is not a choice. In contrast, during the earlier years of the fight for rights, campaigners countered the concept of homosexuality as a ‘sickness’ by declaring it a lifestyle choice by rational adults.

The 'Born This Way' panel ask whether we have a choice in our sexuality, and, if so, does it contradict the libertarian concept of self-creation? Is sexuality found in the brain, or do we have to look beyond our heads for the answer?

Dr Rahman is Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences at Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. He conducts pioneering research into the biological origins of sexual orientation in humans and is the architect of Queen Mary’s innovative psychology programme, bridging the natural and social sciences.

Having published more than 50 academic papers on the topic of sexuality and co-authored the hugely successful book Born Gay in 2005, Dr Rahman recently appeared on the BBC’s documentary ‘I Woke Up Gay’. He makes regular appearances on leading LGBT website Gay Star News to discuss his quest for the answer ‘what makes people gay?’ as well as areas such as LGBT mental health and social policy.

Born This Way takes place on Sunday 21 October, 9.30am - 10.15am, Frobisher Auditorium 2, the Barbican, as part of the Ethical Battles in Science and Medicine series. Information on ticket sales for the Battle of Ideas can be found here:

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