Accessibility statement

Prof Paul Johnson
Head of Department



  • BA (Hons) (Durham)
  • MA (Durham)
  • PhD (Newcastle)
  • PGCAP (Surrey)

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. In 2017 I became Head of Department.



I am a sociologist interested in law and social control. My research is concerned with a number of broad questions about the relationship between law, human rights and sexual orientation. I also research aspects of policing in a number of jurisdictions.

My recent publications include the books: 

I have a specific interest in the European Convention on Human Rights and edit the ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog which provides up to date information on issues relating to sexual orientation in Council of Europe member states.

I also maintain the Going to Strasbourg website which is dedicated to research on the motivations and aspirations of people in the UK who have made complaints in the European Court of Human Rights about sexual orientation discrimination.


My recent research activity has included the following:

I have, with Professor Robert Vanderbeck and Dr Silvia Falcetta, carried out the first empirical study of religious same-sex marriages in England and Wales and published a report on the findings.

I have written a comprehensive but condensed assessment of the current state of human rights protection offered to LGBTI people by the Council of Europe (a draft of the forthcoming chapter is available).

With Dr Falcetta, I have produced studies of the European Court of Human Rights' approach to sexual orientation discrimination in respect of:

  • Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (in European Law Review) 
  • Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights (a draft of our forthcoming chapter is available)
  • Migration (in Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law)
  • Central and Eastern Europe (European Human Rights Law Review)

Professor Vanderbeck and I have published an article, in the Journal of Law and Society, on faith-based discrimination against same-sex couples in England and Wales in relation to marriage, and an article in the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion on the role of the Church of England in ensuring that "religious exceptions" are included in UK sexual orientation equality law. 

I have continued my collaboration with Professor Karen Bullock at the University of Surrey through our research project "Faith in Policing: The Co-Production of Crime Control", and an article from this project, on police engagement with Muslim communities, has been published in Policing and Society

Shorter pieces of writing include an article in the Huffington Post on the so-called "Turing Pardons", as well as the text of a "Pint of Science" talk on gay rights as human rights. I gave the third Annual Belfast Pride Law Lecture in August 2019 at Queen's University on "Popularism, Sexual Orientation Discrimination, and the European Convention on Human Rights".  

I also produced a 30-minute podcast for the Going to Strasbourg research project.

Legislative activity:

I work closely, in a non-party-political capacity, with the UK Parliament on various aspects of sexual orientation law.

In 2016, I proposed the repeal of the last remaining discriminatory law relating to homosexuality and the armed forces, which resulted in the enactment of section 14 of the Armed Forces Act 2016 (read about it here).

In 2017, I drafted several provisions for the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which provides posthumous pardons for those convicted of now repealed sexual offences (read about it here).

In 2018, I drafted a Bill to make provision for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. 


Full publications list


Edited Book

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

Articles in peer-reviewed journals 

  • Johnson, P. (2019) 'Buggery and Parliament: 1533-2017'. Parliamentary History. (in press).
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2019) 'Sexual Orientation Equality In Central And Eastern Europe: The Role Of The European Convention On Human Rights'. European Human Rights Law Review. (in press).
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2019) 'Human rights law as social control'. European Journal of Criminology. (in press).
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2019) 'Beyond the Anti-Homosexuality Act: homosexuality and the Parliament of Uganda'. Parliamentary Affairs. (advanced online access)
  • Falcetta, S. and Johnson, P. (2018) 'Migration, Sexual Orientation, and the European Convention on Human Rights'. Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law. 32: 210-231.
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2018) 'Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights: Developing the Protection of Sexual Minorities'. European Law Review. 43(2): 167-185.
  • Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. (2017) 'Sexual orientation equality and religious exceptionalism in the law of the United Kingdom: the role of the Church of England'. Oxford Journal of Law and Religion. 6(3): 433-450.
  • Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. (2017) 'Sacred spaces, sacred words: religion and same-sex marriage in England and Wales'. Journal of Law and Society. 44(2): 228-254.
  • Bullock, K. and Johnson, P. (2017) 'Police engagement with Muslim communities: breaking out, breaking in, and breaking through'. Policing and Society. (Published in advance on-line access).
  • Bullock, K. and Johnson, P. (2016) 'Faith in Policing: The Co-production of Crime Control in Britain'. British Journal of Criminology. 58(1): 75-94.
  • Vanderbeck, R.M. and Johnson, P. (2016) 'The promotion of British values: sexual orientation equality, religion, and England's schools'. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 30(3): 292-321.
  • 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. 40(2): 207-224. 
  • Johnson, P. (2015) '"Homosexual propaganda" laws in the Russian Federation: are they in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights?'. Russian Law Journal. 3(2): 37-61
  • Vanderbeck, R.M. and Johnson, P. (2015) 'Homosexuality, religion and the contested legal framework governing sex education in England'. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 37(2): 161-179
  • Johnson, P. (2015) 'Marriage, heteronormativity and the European Court of Human Rights: a reappraisal'. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 29(1): 56-77.
    • Reprinted in Law and Sexuality (volume 3) edited by Harding, R., 2016, Routledge. 
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Making unjust law: the Parliament of Uganda and the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014'. Parliamentary Affairs. 68(4): 709-736.
  • 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.

Book Chapters

  • Bengtson, S., Gonzalez-Salzberg, D., Hodson, L. and Johnson, P. (2019) 'Christine Goodwin v the United Kingdom', in Hodson, L. and Lavers, T. (eds) Feminist Judgments in International Law. London: Bloomsbury. 
  • Johnson, P. (2018) 'The Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights'. In Andreas R. Ziegler (ed.) International LGBTI Law: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law from an International-Comparative Perspective (forthcoming: draft available here).
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2018) 'Same-sex Marriage and Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights'. In Ashford, C. and Maine, A (eds.) Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming: draft available here).
  • Johnson, P. (2017) 'Beliefs about the European Court of Human Rights in the UK Parliament'. In Amatrudo, A & Rauxloh, R. (eds.) Law in Popular Belief: Myth and Reality. Manchester: Manchester UP. 
  • 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.

Shorter articles

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



Contact details

Professor Paul Johnson
Head of Department
Department of Sociology
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 322624 / 4742



Crime, Gender and Sexuality (3rd Year UG)


Law and Social Control (MA)