Centre for Religion and Public Life research clusters

Religion, Gender and Sexuality

Centre for Religion and Public Life research critically examines various aspects of gender and sexuality in relation to religious beliefs, texts, practices and politics.

The interdisciplinary research in this area makes use of anthropological, sociological, geographical, theological and textual approaches, building on feminist, queer, and postcolonial perspectives. It focuses on Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism and explores a wide range of issues such as: women’s ordination; gender-based violence and sexual abuse; the gendered aspects of mental illness; politics of homosexuality, same-sex relationships and LGBT rights; theologies of gender, sexuality and marriage.


Postgraduate research students

  • Jamys Carter
  • Hollie Gowan
  • Sofia Rehman
  • Shwagota Sayeed


Caroline Starkey, Women in British Buddhism: Ordination, Connection and Community (Critical Studies in Buddhism Series) (Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming).

Johanna Stiebert, First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible: Sex in the Family (London: Bloomsbury 2016).
Emma Tomalin, Caroline Starkey and Anna Halafoff, “Cyber Sisters: Buddhist Women's Online Activism and Practice”, Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion vol. 6 (2015), 11-33.

Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando (eds.), Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa (London: Routledge 2016).

Paul Johnson and Robert Vanderbeck, Law, Religion and Homosexuality (London: Routledge 2014).

Major projects

Stiebert is co-lead for The Shiloh Project, investigating intersections between rape cultures, religion and the Bible. Related to this, she is Primary Investigator of an AHRC Research Network Grant (International Highlight Notice), entitled ‘Resisting Gender-Based Violence and Injustice Through Activism with Bible Texts and Images’ (2018-2020), as well as Co-Investigator for grants funded by the White Rose Consortium (to establish a research network in Yorkshire, 2018-2019) and by the Worldwide Universities Network to work with academics and third-sector groups in Accra, Ghana (2018-2019) on issues of religion and gender-based violence.

Van Klinken was Principal Investigator of a British Academy funded research network on “Queering the Curriculum: Gender and Sexuality in Theology & Religious Studies Programmes” (2016-2017).