Constitutional Court Overturns Gender Bias

The Constitutional Court Overturns Gender Bias by allowing women to sue the mia noi of their husbands. With many changes in Thailand with the recognition of same-sex marriages in Thailand. This week in June 2024 another taboo has been shattered. This time by the Constitutional Court. This is another landmark ruling for gender equality in Thailand. A wife can now sue the lovers or mia noi of her husband. This is not exactly new as men could always do this if their wives did it. The gender of the lover also made no difference in the ruling. One should look at that part as being the same-sex marriage laws that have now come into being.

Constitutional Court Overturns Gender Bias

Thai Consitutional Law

The infidelity and the rights of spouses in Thailand have changed with this landmark ruling. So what has changed is again that there needs to be a change in Section 1523 of the Civil and Commercial Code. This as it violates Section 27 of the Thai Constitution. (See: Damages in Divorce)

Section 1523 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code outlines the legal framework regarding infidelity and the rights of spouses to seek damages. Here is the specific text of Section 1523. So a husband is entitled under the law to claim damages from a person who has committed adultery with his wife.

Likewise, a wife is entitled to claim damages from a woman who has committed adultery with her husband. Likewise has acted in a manner that shows the nature of the relationship publicly.

As you will note this section of the Civil and Commercial Code shows a significant gender disparity. The law only permits husbands to sue their wives’ lovers without gender distinction or that there was a need for public display of the relationship. In contrast, wives can only sue other women who have committed adultery with their husbands and have made the relationship public.

The case here has centered around Section 1523 of the Civil Code, which was found to violate Section 27 of the Thai constitution. Likewise, it is Section 27 that ensures the protection of the rights and liberties of all Thai citizens, irrespective of their gender. The Constitutional Court determined that Section 1523 was inconsistent with these constitutional protections and ordered that the ruling be enforced within 360 days.

So if we recap then Section 1523 of the Civil and Commercial Code granted husbands the right to sue their wives’ lovers. This within the law came without any gender distinction. The flip side is that Thai wives could only sue other women who publicly displayed an adulterous relationship with their husbands. This disparity created an unequal legal framework that favored husbands over wives in cases of infidelity. (See: Divorce in Thailand).

The matter was brought before the court by Keirov Kritteeranon who is the secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman. He noted that there was inequality in the law and gender bias in Section 1523 of the Civil and Commercial Code. This also contravened Section 27 of the Constitution.

Much like with other rulings, the court’s directive will now be enforced within 360 days. This now provides us with a clear timeline as to when this law will become part of the legal framework. The Civil and Commercial Code which covers divorce law in Thailand should also be read. 

Conclusion

The implications of the Constitutional Court ruling not only correct the legal framework when it comes to family law but also the change of attitudes within Thai society.

This is much like same-sex marriage and the change in the aspects of marital rape and domestic violence. It’s a very progressive step towards finally dismantling all gender-based discrimination in Thailand with the promotion of a more equitable legal environment. Lastly also see the article on the redefinition of rape in the country. 

Lastly, you will note that the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Section 1523 of the Civil Code marks a significant advancement in the protection of spousal rights as well as gender equality in Thailand. Having now rectified the legal imbalance that previously existed. The courts will now reinforce the constitutional commitment to equal protection for all citizens.

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