For centuries law has provided means to ensure the systemic oppression of non-heterosexual people.
In recent times and in certain jurisdictions, law has also become a key mechanism for challenging discrimination and establishing equality on the grounds of sexual orientation. For these reasons, it is therefore important for lesbian, gay and bisexual people around the world to engage with, understand and use law as a means of addressing and eradicating homophobia.
Professor Paul Johnson carried out extensive research on the relationship between sexual orientation equality and law in the United Kingdom, Europe and around the world.
In his latest book, Going to Strasbourg: An Oral History of Sexual Orientation Discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights, Professor Johnson explores the experiences of gay men and lesbians who have utilised the European Convention on Human Rights to address sexual orientation discrimination.
In a number of subsequent journal articles and reports he went on to propose ways in which law could be better utilised to challenge forms of sexual orientation discrimination.
This research has since been taken up by parliament and judicial bodies, directly contributing to important legal changes that relate to sexual orientation equality.
Professor Johnson’s research is recognised as having led to the repeal of a British Law that meant homosexual behaviour could constitute grounds for discharge from the armed forces
The research also underpinned legislation enacted in 2017 that introduced a scheme in Northern Ireland to allow people previously convicted of "homosexual offences" to apply for a disregard and pardon.
The changes that have arisen from this research demonstrate how academic socio-legal work can lead to applied, real-life changes that improve societies and the lives of individuals.