Court: Granting Age Identity Rights ‘Would Have Variety of Undesirable Legal and Societal Implications’

By Craig Bannister | December 3, 2018 | 6:24pm EST
69 year-old Emil Ratelband petitioned court to lower his age by 20 years. (Screenshot_

A Dutch court has rejected 69 year-old Emil Ratelband’s bid to legally lower his age by 20 years to match his self-identified age of 49.

Citing gender and name identity rights, Ratelband had petitioned the Netherland’s Arnhem district court to change his age. But, in an announcement Monday on its website, de Rechtspraak, the court rejected Ratelband’s request, since age requirements placed on activities like voting would become meaningless:

“The district court has refused to amend Emil Ratelband’s date of birth. Mr Ratelband had asked the district court to make the amendment to match the age that he says that he feels (49). The court found that there was no scope in legislation or case law to allow such a ruling.”


“The court did not find any reason in Mr Ratelband’s arguments to create new case law in line with the statutory provisions on changes to a person’s officially registered name or gender. Its main reason was that, unlike the situation with respect to a change in registered name or gender, there are a variety of rights and duties related to age, such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school. If Mr Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.”

The court ruled that Ratelband had failed to make his case based on his claim of “age discrimination”:

“Mr Ratelband had failed to sufficiently substantiate his claim that he suffers from age discrimination, and in any case there are other alternatives available for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a person’s date of birth.”

Establishing an age identity right would also have “a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications,” the court ruled, stating that “public records must contain accurate factual information”:

“The court also rejected Mr Ratelband’s argument based on free will, since free will does not extend so far as to make every desired outcome legally possible. Mr Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly. But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.

“The priority must be to ensure that the public registers contain accurate factual information.”

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