Dutchman, 69, loses court battle to change legal age to 49 | News | DW | 03.12.2018

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Dutchman, 69, loses court battle to change legal age to 49

If you can legally change your name or gender, should you also be able to change your birthdate? 'No' is the answer from a Dutch court to one lovesick pensioner.

A 69-year-old from the Netherlands has lost an unprecedented legal bid to shave 20 years off his age to improve his love life.

Self-styled positivity coach Emile Ratelband had argued his official age should be changed to 49 to reflect how old he felt. 

He complained of feeling "abused, aggrieved and discriminated against," in many situations because of his age — from buying a property to looking for love online. 

In a written statement a court in Arnhem denied his request, saying changing his birthdate would lead to difficulties in official record keeping.

"Mr Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly," said the court in the statement. 

"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."

Read moreWhat's behind Facebook's new dating app?

If gender, why not age?

"If you are 69, you don't get as many connections (on dating apps) as when you're 49," Emile Ratelband told DW in an earlier interview.

"If you are 55 or above, you can't get a job anymore in your life. If you want to have a mortgage and you're 69, it's impossible." 

The single father of seven had argued that although his legal appeal was unprecedented in the Netherlands, it wasn't so different to other transformations gaining official recognition around the world. 

"Today we can choose our work, gender, political and sexual orientation. We even have the right to change our name. Why do we not have the right to change our age?" Ratelband asked. 

"I feel young and I want it legalized," he said. "I'm doing this for myself, and if people … think I'm crazy, that's ok because everybody has their own reality."

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Ratelband said his doctor put his biological age at 40-42, but he decided that might be too young: "Forty-nine for me was a good age, and I wanted to stay a little bit realistic."

Court ruling

However, the court did not share Ratelband's view that 49 was in any way realistic. 

Although judges "recognised that there was a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, [they] did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person's date of birth," according to the court's statement.

Read moreAge discrimination also affects young workers

New start over 

Had he won, Ratelband claimed was ready to start his life over.

"I can buy a new house, because I'll be able to get a mortgage. When I buy a house, I can marry a woman. I can have children again. It's just logical for me."

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