Remembering Chrystal MacMillan: Women’s Equality and Nationality in International Law

This article both continues and returns to the story of Chrystal Macmillan and the International Law Association. Some seventy-five years later, gender discrimination still exists in nationality law. For an American audience, Thailand’s offer of nationality to U.S. golfer Tiger Woods, whose mother is Thai, highlighted the inequality of Thailand’s laws on nationality. Although Thai women, as well as Thai men, can now pass their nationality to their children, the law continues to discriminate against women in other matters of nationality. Whereas the foreign wives of Thai men are specially entitled to apply for Thai nationality, the foreign husbands of Thai women are not. In practice, Thai women married to foreigners are also subject to discrimination in the ownership of land. All Thais married to foreigners are prohibited from owning property in Thailand, but this prohibition is more easily enforced against Thai women because their identity card reveals their marital status and their husband’s non-Thai surname. Thai men, whose marital status is not recorded on their identity card, can readily evade enforcement.