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Sue Westwood



Dr Sue Westwood
BSc (Hons), MSc (Geront), MSc (IntPsych), DipCnsPsych, PGDip (Gender, Sexuality & Human Rights), GDL, PhD (Law), FHEA

Senior Lecturer

I am a Senior Lecturer in Law, the 2-Year LLB Law (Senior Status) Programme Leader, the York Law School (YLS) Athena Swan Coordinator, and a YLS Research Impact Champion.

I joined York Law School as a Lecturer in 2018 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2021. I had been a research fellow/research associate at several universities, including the University of Oxford and the University of Surrey, where I was a member of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG). I was previously a Visiting Scholar at the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, USA. I have also taught law at Keele University, Coventry University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

My research relates to equality in later life, in regulatory contexts. I combine my qualifications in both law and gerontology, and a previous career in psychology and social work, to explore ageing, diversity and equality, especially in relation to the provision of health and social care to older people. My approaches are feminist and intersectional, with a particular focus on care ethics, social justice and affective equality.

I am a member of the University of York’s Ageing Network.



My primary research relates to equality in later life, in regulatory contexts. My PhD was on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) ageing, the under-recognition of LGB issues in ageing regulatory contexts, and the under-recognition of ageing issues in LGB regulatory contexts. A particular feature of that research was older LGB people’s concerns about heteronormative and cisnormative health and social care provision, especially in relation to religious care organisations and staff. I have continued to explore these issues in relation to older lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people in my more recent research.


Current Projects

I am committed to research impact and have recently co-written, with Dr Liz Price, University of Hull, a good practice guide for those working with LGBTQ people living with dementia (in press).

My current primary research focus is on the equality and social justice implications of the delivery of health and social care to LGBTQ people in general, and older LGBTQ people in particular, by professionals who disapprove of them and/or their rights on religious grounds.

I am also currently researching the place of gender and ethnicity in legal education, specifically, at the present time, how gender and ethnicity inform differences in undergraduate law students' second- and third- year module option preferences and/or allocations.

I am co-editor, with Professor Nancy Knauer, of Temple University, Philadelphia, US,  of the following 40-chapter research handbook which is currently under construction:

  • Westwood, S. and Knauer, K. (2024) Research Handbook on Law, Society and Ageing. Edward Elgar.

Recent Projects

Recent research projects have included the following:

  • Religious Freedoms and Sexual Orientation Rights in Older Age Care Spaces(C & JB Morrell Trust Priming Funds 2019/2020, via the University of York)

This scoping study on religion, sexual orientation and gender conducted a literature review which found that healthcare, social care and social work students and professionals who hold negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people are more likely to identify with a religion, and that this is especially the case among highly religious individuals. A survey, interviews and focus groups were conducted with older LGBTQ people. There were wide-ranging concerns about religious care, including worries about encountering prejudice and discrimination; fears about religious conversion attempts; concerns about inferior care which was not LGBTQ- affirmative; and a wish for more than “tolerant” care. The project raised many questions about the equitable delivery of care informed by religious beliefs to LGBTQ people,  within regulatory contexts. Further research is needed. A research network has been developed, which is now working on several related research grant applications. York Law School funded a one-day workshop to support this process, held at the University of York in July 2022, attended by faith leaders, interfaith leaders, members of LGBTQ organisations, including LGBTQ religious organisations, care commissions, providers and regulators.

  • Impact of COVID-19 on Older LGBTQ People

This project was conducted in collaboration with Professor Trish Hafford-Letchfield, University of Strathclyde and Dr Michael Toze. The project explored the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on older LGBTQ people. Lockdown appeared to have magnified LGBTQ older people’s overall experiences. Those who were positive about  their living circumstances prior to COVID, reported stoicism, adaptability and determined positivity in response to lockdown. Some even reported an improved quality of life, better personal relationships and increased support among neighbours. However, those who were dissatisfied with their living circumstances prior to lockdown, especially those with precarious social support networks, reported a worsening of their circumstances and increased loneliness and isolation. This was mitigated for some by access to online support networks, organised by community organisations. The project  identified the need for healthcare, social care and social work professionals to have greater awareness of, and knowledge and understanding about, LGBTQ health and social support needs and concerns. It also highlighted the need to embed LGBTQ equalities in emergency and disaster management policies, to recognise and fully support the role of LGBTQ advocacy organisations during public health crises, and to ensure their integration with public services at all levels.


Selected publications

Selected Recent Publications

For a full list of publications see York research database

Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • Westwood, S. (2022) Can religious social workers practice affirmatively with LGBTQ service recipients? An exploration within the regulatory context. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.
  • Westwood, S. (2022). “People with faith-based objections might display homophobic behaviour or transphobic behaviour”: Older LGBTQ people’s fears about religious organisations and staff providing long-term care. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging,
  • Westwood, S. (2022) Religious-based negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people among healthcare, social care and social work students and professionals: A review of the international literature. Health and Social Care in the Community,
  • Toze, M., Westwood, S., and Hafford-Letchfield, T. (2021) Social support and unmet needs among older trans and gender non-conforming people during the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ in the UK.  International Journal of Transgender Health. 10.1080/26895269.2021.1977210  
  • Hafford-Letchfield, T., Toze, M. & Westwood, S. (2021) Unheard voices: A qualitative study of LGBT+ older people’s experiences during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Health and Social Care in the Community 
  • Westwood, S., Hafford-Letchfield, T. and Toze, M. (2021) Physical and mental well-being, risk and protective factors among older lesbians /gay women in the United Kingdom during the initial COVID-19 2020 lockdown.  Journal of Women and Aging,
  • Westwood, S. (2020) The myth of ‘older LGBT+’ people: Research shortcomings and policy/practice implications for health/care provision. Journal of Aging Studies, 55,
  • Westwood, S., Willis, P., Fish, J., Hafford-Letchfield, T., Semlyen, J., King, J., Beach, B., Almack, K., Kneale, D., Toze, M. and Becares, L. (2020) Older LGBT+ Health Inequalities: Setting a research agenda. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 74(5), 408-411.


  • Westwood, S. and Price, E. (in press) LGBTQ People and Dementia: A good practice guide. Good Practice Guides in Dementia Care series, Bradford Dementia Group and Jessica Kingsley. Series editor: Professor Murna Downs.
  • Westwood, S. (Ed) (2021) Death Rights: Regulating the endings of life. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. (Ed) (2018). Ageing, Diversity and Equality: Social justice perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge. [Successfully nominated by Routledge for the Knowledge Unlatched Open Access scheme]
  • King, A., Almack, S., Suen, Y.T., Westwood, S. (Eds) (2018). Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People: Minding the Knowledge Gaps. Routledge.
  • Westwood, S., and Price, E. (Eds) (2016) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* (LGBT*) Individuals Living with Dementia: Concepts, practice and rights. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. (2016) Ageing, Gender and Sexuality: Equality in Later Life. Abingdon: Routledge. [Winner of the Socio Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Early Career Book Prize for 2017]

Book chapters

  • Willis, P. and Westwood, S. (forthcoming). Mental health across the lifespan. In J. Semlyen and P. Rohleder (eds) Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Mental Health: Current Perspectives and New Directions. Palgrave Macmillan
  • Westwood, S. (2021). Embodiment, choice and control at the beginning and ending of life: Paradoxes and contradictions. In S. Westwood (ed) Regulating the Endings of Life: Death Rights Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. (2020). Older Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People: Socio- legal perspectives on healthcare inequalities in later life. In M.A. Jacob and A. Kirkland (Eds) Research Handbook for Socio-Legal Studies of Medicine and Health, part of Law and Society series directed by Austin Sarat (Amherst, US) and Rosemary Hunter (Queen Mary, London), London: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Westwood, S. (2018). Heterosexual Ageing: Interrogating the taken-for-granted norm. In S. Westwood (Ed) Ageing, Diversity and Equality: Social justice perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Westwood, S. (2018). Which ageing ‘families’ count? Older lesbian, gay and bisexual family forms – relational legal in/exclusions in (older age) family law. In J. Herring and B. Clough, (Eds) Ageing, Gender and Family Law. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S, Yiu-Tung, S & Scott, V.  (2018) Gaps within gaps: Intersecting marginalisations of older Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT* people. In King, A., Almack, S., Suen, Y.T., Westwood, S. (Eds) (2018). Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People: Minding the Knowledge Gaps, pp 93-109. Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. and Lowe, J. (2017). The hidden sexualities of older lesbians and bisexual women. In C. Barrett & S. Hinchliff, (Eds.). Addressing the Sexual Rights of Older People: Theory, Policy and Practice, pp 56-69Abingdon: Routledge.


External activities


I am a member of the Socio Legal Studies Association, the Law and Society Association, and the British Society of Gerontology. I was Honorary Secretary of the British Society of Gerontology 2020-2022.


I have collaborated with researchers at several other UK universities, including De Montfort University; University of Bristol; University College London; University of Hertfordshire; University of Lincoln; University of Strathclyde; University of Sheffield; University of Surrey; University of Sussex; and Staffordshire University.

I have also collaborated with a wide range of external organisations, including Age UK, Alzheimer's Society, Brighton and Hove Switchboard, Carers UK, City of York Council, International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK); Leeds Bereavement Centre; LGBT Foundation; Opening Doors London; Public Health England; LGBT SAND (Safe Ageing, No Discrimination); Stonewall; York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and Yorkshire MESMAC.

Internationally, I have collaborated with academic colleagues at Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada; Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, US; and Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia.

Expert invitations

In 2022, I was an invited expert at a World Health Organisation (WHO) international consultation event to inform  its report Tackling Elder Abuse: Priorities for the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021 – 2030.

In 2021, I was interviewed as expert witness on LGBTQ people and dementia, national consultation by Diversifying Dementia Services & COB-MS School of Health Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway.


I attend, chair and convene a range of academic and public events each year. So far, in 2022, I have engaged in the following activities:

  • Convenor and Chair of a one-day in-person workshop exploring religion, sexual orientation and gender identity in care contexts, hosted and funded by the York Law School. 25 attendees, including faith leaders, interfaith leaders, LGBTQ representatives and activists, care commissioners, care providers and care regulators. July 2022.
  • Convenor and Chair of online workshop exploring religion, sexual orientation and gender identity in older age care contexts, hosted by the York Law School. June 2022.
  • Convenor and Chair of ‘Equality and Diversity Issues in Care Homes Research’ online workshop, hosted by the British Society of Gerontology’s Special Interest Group in Care Homes Research, Speakers: Professor Shereen Hussein, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Dr Karen Watchman,  University of Stirling; Professor Trish Hafford-Letchfield, University of Strathclyde. 25th January 2022. 100+ attendees.

Other Activities

I am/have been an invited reviewer for the following:

  • Peer review journals: Age and Ageing; Ageing and Society; American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementia; Canadian Journal for Law and Society; Clinical Gerontologist; Culture, Health and Sexuality; European Geriatric Medicine; Gerontologist; Health and Social Care in the Community; Health Promotion Journal of Australia; Housing Studies; International Journal of Law and Psychiatry; Journal of Academic Development and Education (JADE ); Journal of Human Rights Practice; Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work; NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research); PLOS ONE; Psychology and Sexuality; Psychology of Sexualities Review; Research on Ageing; Social Epidemiology; Social Science and Medicine; Social Theory and Health; The British Journal of Sociology; The Journal of Medical Ethics; The Journal of Nursing Ethics; The Sociological Review.
  • Book publishers: Policy Press;
  • Grant-making bodies: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); National Institute for Health Research (NIHR); Swiss Nationale Fondation (SNF)



A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, I am the 2-Year LLB Law (Senior Status) Programme Leader.

I also teach/have taught on the following modules:

  • LLB Year 1: Introduction to Law and Society (2018-22 ); Legal Concepts (2021-2 )
  • LLB Years 1 and 2: Foundations in Law, Obligations (2018-)
  • LLB Year 3 optional modules:
    • Law, Gender & Sexuality (designer & module leader) (2019-)
    • Law and Emotion (designer and module leader) (2022- )
    • Year 3 Dissertations (2018- )
  • I am also a member of the Staff/Student Forum.


  • LLM optional module Law, Gender & Sexuality (designer and module leader) (2020-22, due to resume academic year 2023-4)

Contact details

Dr Sue Westwood
York Law School

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 5874