Prof Paul Johnson



  • PhD (Newcastle)
  • MA Contemporary Sociology: Studies in Social, Political and Cultural Order (Dunelm)
  • BA Sociology and Social Policy (Dunelm)


After leaving school at 16 and spending 5 years working in various jobs (and a few periods of unemployment) I went to Derwentside College in Consett to study for a Higher Education Foundation Course (an access course). From there I went to the University of Durham and graduated in 1997 with a BA in Sociology and Social Policy. I stayed in Durham to complete an MA and then obtained a PhD from the University of Newcastle in 2002. I worked in the School of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Durham from 2002, and from 2006 I was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey. I moved to York in 2012 as Anniversary Reader in Sociology and was subsequently promoted to a personal chair.

Departmental roles

I am Director of Teaching, Chair of Departmental Teaching Committee, and a member of the Departmental Management Team.

I am also Programme Director for the MA Criminology and Social Research.

I am a member of the following Departmental Committees:

  • Research Committee
  • REF Committee
  • Impact sub-committee

University roles

I sit on the University Special Cases Committee



My current research is concerned with a number of broad questions about the relationship between law, human rights, sexual orientation and intimacy. I have a general interest in the role and purpose of law in promoting (and protecting) particular kinds of sexuality and human relationships.

My recent socio-legal publications have focused on aspects of law and social control in the national jurisdictions of the United Kingdom and Australia as well as on the regional jurisdictions of Africa and Europe.

I have a long-standing interest in policing and have conducted empirical work on policing in a number of contexts. I recently wrote the submission on 'hate crime' for Lord Stevens Independent Commission on the Future of Policing.

I have a specific interest in the European Convention on Human Rights and my study of the European Court of Human Rights was published in 2013 by Routledge. In this respect, I currently maintain the ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog which provides up to date information on issues relating to sexual orientation in Council of Europe states. 

Current projects

Most recently, I have undertaken research on the enactment of the 'Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014' in Uganda, and completed an article which is published in Parliamentary Affairs.

In terms of my ongoing research of the European Convention on Human Rights I have recently been examining the textual construction of Article 12 of the Convention (the 'right to marry') and its interpretation by the European Court of Human Rights (an article on this is 'in press' at European Law Review). I have also been considering how the Court's recent recognition that same-sex couples form relationships 'like that of a marriage' and live in forms of 'de facto marital cohabitation' might be useful in persuading the Court to recognize the rights of same-sex couples under Article 12 (an article on this is 'in press' at International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family).

As well as this, I finished researching and writing a new monograph, with Robert Vanderbeck at the University of Leeds, called Law, Religion and Homosexuality that was published by Routledge in May 2014.


The monograph is the first book-length study of how religion has shaped, and continues to shape, legislation that regulates the lives of gay men and lesbians in the United Kingdom. Through a systematic examination of how religious discourse influences the making of law – in the form of official interventions made by faith communities and organizations, as well as by expressions of faith by individual legislators – we argue that religion continues to be central to both enabling and restricting the development of sexual orientation equality. Whilst some claim that faith has been marginalized in the legislative processes of contemporary western societies, the book shows the significant impact of religion in a number of substantive legal areas relating to sexual orientation including: same-sex sexual relations, family life, civil partnership and same-sex marriage, equality in employment and the provision of goods and services, hate speech regulation, and education. Law, Religion and Homosexuality demonstrates the dynamic interplay between law and religion in respect of homosexuality and we hope it will be of interest to a wide audience of academics, policy makers and stakeholders.

My other research focus at the moment is a consideration of how sociology can provide a distinctive understanding of the existence and function of the European Court of Human Rights. This work builds on my previous research and is concerned to develop a critical sociological perspective on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights that is both meaningful and useful to sociologists as well as those who adjudicate on human rights issues. 


Full publications list


Edited Book

  • Johnson, P. and Dalton, D. (2012) Policing Sex. London: Routledge.

Articles in peer-reviewed journals 

  • Johnson, P (2015) '"The choice of wording must be regarded as deliberate": same-sex marriage and Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights'. European Law Review. (in press) 
  • Johnson, P (2015) '"Homosexual propaganda" laws in the Russian Federation: are they in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights?'. Russian Law Journal. (in press)
  • Vanderbeck, R.M. and Johnson, P. (2015) 'Religion, homosexuality and the contested legal framework governing sex education in England'. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. (in press)
  • Johnson, P. (2015) 'Marriage, heteronormativity and the European Court of Human Rights: a reappraisal'. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. Published in advance on-line access.
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Making unjust law: the Parliament of Uganda and the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014'. Parliamentary Affairs. Published in advance on-line access. 
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Sociology and the European Court of Human Rights'. The Sociological Review. 62(3): 547-564.
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Pornography and the European Convention on Human Rights'. Porn Studies. 1(3): 315-336.
  • Johnson, P. (2013) 'Homosexuality and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: what can be learned from the history of the European Convention on Human Rights?'. Journal of Law and Society. 40(2): 249-279. 
  • Johnson, P. (2012) ‘Adoption, homosexuality and the European Convention on Human Rights: Gas and Dubois v France’. Modern Law Review. 75(6): 1136-1149.
  • Bullock, K. and Johnson, P. (2012) ‘The impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on Policing in England and Wales’. British Journal of Criminology. 52(3): 630-650.
  • Johnson, P. (2012) 'Heteronormativity and the European Court of Human Rights'. Law and Critique. 23(1): 43-66.
  • Johnson, P. (2011) 'Homosexuality, freedom of assembly, and the margin of appreciation doctrine of the European Court of Human Rights: Alekseyev v Russia'. Human Rights Law Review. 11(3): 578-593.
  • Johnson, P. (2011) 'Challenging the heteronormativity of marriage: the role of judicial interpretation and authority'. Social and Legal Studies. 20(3): 349-367.
  • Johnson, P. & Vanderbeck, R.M. (2011) '"Hit them on the nose": representations of policing in Parliamentary debates about incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation'. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. 5(1): 65-74.
  • Vanderbeck, R.M. & Johnson, P. (2011) '"If a charge was brought against a saintly religious leader whose intention was to save souls…": an analysis of UK Parliamentary debates over incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation'. Parliamentary Affairs. 64(4): 652-673.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘The Enforcement of Morality: Law, Policing and Sexuality in New South Wales’. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 43(3): 399-422.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘Law, morality and disgust: the regulation of “extreme pornography” in England and Wales’. Social and Legal Studies. 19(2): 147-164.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘”An essentially private manifestation of human personality”: constructions of homosexuality in the European Court of Human Rights’. Human Rights Law Review. 10(1): 67-97.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘What is love without mourning? Male intimacies and cultures of loss’. Journal for Cultural Research. 14(2): 176-196.
  • Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. (2009) ‘A response to “Islamic marital order and the threats of homosexuality in Nigeria”’. Journal for Faith, Spirituality and Social Change. 2(1): 1-7.
  • Johnson, P. (2008) ‘”Crimes against morality”: law and public sex in Australia’. Alternative Law Journal. 33(3): 155-159.
  • Johnson, P. (2008) ‘”Rude boys”: the homosexual eroticization of class’. Sociology. 42(1): 65-82.
  • Johnson, P. (2007) ‘”Ordinary Folk and Cottaging”: Law, Morality and Public Sex’. Journal of Law and Society. 34(4): 520-543. (Reprinted in The Library of Essays on Sexuality and Law, volume II: Crime and Punishment, edited by Robson, R., 2011, Ashgate). 
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2007) ‘Internationalising New Technologies of Crime Control: Forensic DNA Databasing and Datasharing in the European Union’. Policing and Society. 17(2): 103-118.
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2007) ‘European securitization and biometric identification: the uses of genetic profiling’.  Ann Ist Super Sanità. 43(1): 36-43. (Reprinted in Biometrics: Techno-Legal Issues, edited by Bhavani, M.N., 2008, Punjagutta: Icfai University Press).
  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2005) ‘Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Intrusiveness: Issues in the Developing Uses of DNA Profiling in Support of Criminal Investigations’. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. 33(3): 545-558. (Reprinted in Special Issue of Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 2006, 34(2): 234-247).
  • Johnson, P. & Lawler, S. (2005) ‘Coming home to love and class’. Sociological Research Online. 10(3).
  • Johnson, P. (2004) ‘Haunting Heterosexuality: The Homo/Het Binary and Intimate Love’. Sexualities. 7(2): 183-200.
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2004) ‘Post-conviction testing: the UK's first “exoneration” case?’. Science and Justice. 44(2): 77-82.
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2004) ‘DNA and Crime Investigation: Scotland and the “UK National DNA Database”’. Scottish Journal of Criminal Justice Studies. 10: 71-85.
  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2004) ‘Circuits of Surveillance’. Surveillance and Society. 2(1): 1-14.
  • Williams, R & Johnson, P. (2004) ‘”Wonderment and Dread”: Representations of DNA in Ethical Disputes about Forensic DNA Databases’. New Genetics and Society. 23(2): 205-223.
  • Johnson, P. , Martin, P. & Williams, R. (2003) ‘Genetics and Forensics: Making the National DNA Database’. Science Studies. 16(2): 22-37.

Shorter articles

Book Chapters

  • Johnson, P. (2013) 'Hate Crime'. In Brown, J (ed.) The Future of Policing. Abingdon: Routledge.  
  • Johnson, P. (2012) ‘The enforcers of morality?’. In Johnson, P. and Dalton, D. (eds.) Policing Sex. London: Routledge.
  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2007) ‘Captured Identities: Bodies, Biometrics and Criminal Investigations’. In Newburn, T. et al. (eds.) The Handbook of Criminal Investigations. Cullompton: Willan Press.
  • Johnson, P. (2006) ‘Subjectivity and sociality in the films of Andrei Tarkovsky’. In Jonsson, G.A. & Ottarsson, T.A. (eds.) Through the Mirror: Reflections on the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press Ltd.

Review articles

  • Johnson, P. (2005) ‘Improvisation and Constraint: New Work by Judith Butler’. Sociology. 39(4): 755-759.
  • Johnson, P. (2001) ‘The histories of sexuality: the future of debate’. Social Epistemology. 15(2): 127-137.

Published reports

  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2005) Forensic DNA Databasing: A European Perspective. The Wellcome Trust.
  • Williams, R. Johnson, P. & Martin, P. (2004) Genetic Information & Crime Investigation. The Wellcome Trust.



Contact details

Prof. Paul Johnson
Department of Sociology
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD



In 2014/15 I will be teaching on the following undergraduate modules:

The Sociology of Crime and Deviance
1st Year 

Gender, Sexuality and Diversity
2nd Year

Crime, Gender and Sexuality
Final Year 

Theoretical Criminology
Final Year


In 2014/15 I will also convene and deliver the following MA module:

Law and Social Control
MA Criminology and Social Research