In the animal kingdom there are many examples of ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity that completely dismantle the theories that associate these practices with a purely cognitive trait of human beings. In fact, in some species, ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity represents an evolutionary advantage.
Scientific stuᴅɪᴇs and references
In 1995, zoologist Konrad Lorenz published a study in which he stuᴅɪᴇd the behaviour of 1,500 animal species. He observed that 450 of these exhibited s.ᴇ.xual ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴄᴏᴜʀsᴇ, courtship, emotional bonds, partnership and even child-rearing behaviour between ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ individuals. From primates to intestinal parasites.
A decade later, a study conducted by Dr. Nathan Bailey at the University of California, published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, confirmed that examples of s.ᴇ.xual behaviour between same-s.ᴇ.x individuals could be found in all species of the animal kingdom.
These behaviours were different for each species, but in most cases they were an advantageous, evolutionary mechanism. For example, in the case of dolphins, males use s.ᴇ.x to bond with other males and form alliances. In other species, such as fruit flies and insects in general, ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity occurs because of their inability to differentiate between s.ᴇ.xes.
Animals with ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ behavior:
1. American bison, polecats or elephants: Both males and females have been observed courting and mating with others the same s.ᴇ.x. In the case of giraffes, 9 out of 10 couplings occur between males. Bonobos form matriarchal societies, where 60% of s.ᴇ.xual relations occur between females. In lions, 8% of mating observed are among males, and in the case of dogs, numerous research stuᴅɪᴇs affirm the existence of patterns of ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ behaviour.
2. Geese: Geese are monogamous animals. They spend their lives with a single mate and only look for another if the first one ᴅɪᴇs. In Canada, according to some sources, up to 30% of these mates are ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ.
The biologist Kurt Kotrschal, following on from the stuᴅɪᴇs of Konrad Lorenz, has devoted many years to studying these animals. His research supports the idea that ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity is useful for the species. In 1963, Lorenz stated that male mates are more likely to occupy a higher level within geese colonies. This allows them to ғᴇʀᴛɪʟɪsᴇ solitary females, while continuing with their same s.ᴇ.x partners. This is one of the theories that reports the evolutionary advantage of ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity, but it is not the only one.
These stuᴅɪᴇs explore the idea of ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ behaviour as an evolutionary response to environmental changes. The environment is what determines these changes, driving species to change their s.ᴇ.xual and affective behaviours.
3. Birds: All species that form parental relationships do so, to a greater or lesser extent, with members of the same s.ᴇ.x. As many as a quarter of black swans are ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ. Penguins have even struck up same-s.ᴇ.x relationships in zoos in different parts of the world. Stuᴅɪᴇs have shown that up to 85% of lesbian pairs are found in populations of western seagulls. And they’re not the only ones. Pigeons, vultures, ibis, lizards, sheep, macaques, hyenas, flies, dragonflies and countless other animal species are challenging the notion that ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity is “unnatural”.
The social taboo against science
It is interesting to note how the strong rejection of ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity by most societies throughout history has disadvantaged the emergence of a very different reality. A reality in which relationships between individuals of the same s.ᴇ.x occur in all species and are part of their evolutionary development.
Thierry Lodé, a biologist specialising in animal s.ᴇ.xuality, explains how the scientific community, influenced by the Judeo-Christian heritage, has for a long time viewed ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟ practices in animals as a ᴘᴀᴛʜᴏʟᴏɢʏ or disturbance.
In most cases, stuᴅɪᴇs on this subject were avoided for fear of rejection by the scientific community and the wider social context marked by machismo and ʜᴏᴍᴏᴘʜᴏʙɪᴀ. Even today, it remains a taboo subject in many parts of the world where ʜᴏᴍᴏs.ᴇ.xᴜᴀʟity is forbidden or even ᴘᴜɴɪsʜable by ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ.