Professor Paul Johnson


After completing a Higher Education Foundation Course (an access course) at Derwentside College in Consett I went to the University of Durham and graduated in 1997 with a BA in Sociology and Social Policy. I stayed at 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 the University of York in 2012 as Anniversary Reader, was subsequently promoted to a personal chair, and between 2017 and 2021 was Head of the Department of Sociology.

In 2022 I joined the University of Leeds as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. 

Research interests

I am a sociologist interested in law. My most recent research is concerned with a number of broad questions about the relationship between law, human rights and sexual orientation. 

Recent and selected publications


  • Johnson, P. (2016) Going to Strasbourg: An Oral History of Sexual Orientation Discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. (2014) Law, Religion and Homosexuality. Abingdon: Routledge. 
  • Johnson, P. (2013) Homosexuality and the European Court of Human Rights. Abingdon: Routledge.

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

  • Johnson, P. (2022) ‘Disgraceful conduct: Parliamentary regulation of homosexuality in the British Army, 1829-1992’. British Journal for Military History. (In press.)
  • Johnson, P. (2022) ‘The love of law, and the law of love: Jonathan Cooper and LGBT human rights advocacy’. European Human Rights Law Review. 1: 33-48.
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2021) 'The Inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Relationships Education: Faith-Based Objections and the European Convention on Human Rights'. The European Convention on Human Rights Law Review. 3(1): 90-133.
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2021) 'Beyond the Anti-Homosexuality Act: Homosexuality and the Parliament of Uganda'. Parliamentary Affairs. 74(1): 52-78.
  • Falcetta, S., Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. (2021) ‘The Experience of Religious Same-Sex Marriage in England and Wales: Understanding the Opportunities and Limits Created by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013’. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 35(1): 1-27.
  • Johnson, P. and Falcetta, S. (2021) 'Human rights law as social control'. European Journal of Criminology. 18(4): 603-619.
  • Johnson, P. (2019) 'Buggery and Parliament: 1533-2017'. Parliamentary History. 38(3): 325-341.
  • 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. Issue 5481-500.
  • 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.

Book chapters

  • Johnson, P. (2022) ‘LGBT Rights at the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights’, in Marshall, J. (ed.) Personal Identity and the European Court of Human Rights. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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. 

Published reports

Recent legislative activity

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

  • 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 worked on several provisions in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 to provide disregards and pardons for those convicted of now repealed homosexual offences (read about it here).
  • In 2018, I drafted a Bill to make provision for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. 
  • In 2019, I drafted a Bill to make provision for posthumous pardons for the armed forces (and a subsequent Bill in 2020). 
  • In 2021, I worked on provisions, enacted as section 19 of the Armed Forces Act 2021, to provide posthumous pardons for army and royal marines personnel previously convicted of now abolished homosexual offences.
  • In 2022, as a result of several years of work, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 provided disregards and pardons for all those previously convicted of now abolished homosexual offences (read about it here). 
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA (Hons) (Durham)
  • MA (Durham)
  • PhD (Newcastle)
  • PGCAP (Surrey)
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>