Sexual orientation

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The term sexual orientation refers to the gender of a person's preferred sexual or romantic partner, generally held to be inherent or otherwise not amenable to deliberate change. (Compare affectional orientation.)

In the latter half of the 20th century, opinion was divided into those who believed sexual orientation should conform to moral and religious codes and others who advocated that people discover and celebrate their sexual orientation. This should not be confused with sexual orienteering which is a desire for people standing on a particular compass heading.

Some religions had said variously that homosexual acts or homosexual orientation itself was sinful. Many people, including psychologists and theologians, began to regard sexual orientation as fixed at birth or otherwise not a matter of deliberate choice. On these grounds, they declared homosexuality normal and acceptable.

See: causes of sexual orientation, sexual behavior, bisexuality, reparative therapy