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Netherlands Age Change
Self-styled Dutch positivity guru Emile Ratelband answers questions during an interview in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. A Dutch court has rejected the request of Ratelband to shave 20 years off his age, in a case that drew worldwide attention. Emile Ratelband last month asked the court in Arnhem to formally change his date of birth to make him 49, instead of his real age of 69. He argued his request was consistent with other personal transformations, such as the ability to change one's name or gender. The Dutch court said age matters under Dutch law. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

That's not how it works: Dutch court rejects man's request to be 20 years younger

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By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch motivational speaker Emile Ratelband may feel like a 49-year-old, but according to Dutch law, he is still 69.

A Dutch court on Monday rejected Ratelband's request to shave 20 years off his age in a case that drew worldwide attention.

"Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly," Arnhem court said in a news release. "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."

Ratelband went to court last month, arguing that he didn't feel 69 and saying his request was consistent with other forms of personal transformation which are gaining acceptance in the Netherlands and around the world, such as the ability to change one's name or gender.

"This is great! The rejection of (the) court is great ... because they give all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal."
Emile Ratelband, a Dutch "positivity guru" who wants to change his age from 69 to 49.

The court rejected that argument, saying that unlike in the case of a name or gender, Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on 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."

Ratelband, perhaps unsurprisingly given his background as a self-described advocate of positive thinking, was undeterred by the court's rejection and vowed to appeal.

"This is great!" he said. "The rejection of (the) court is great ... because they give all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal."

He said he was the first of "thousands of people who want to change their age."

The court said it acknowledged "a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person's date of birth."

Ratelband also insisted his case did have parallels with requests for name and gender changes.

"I say it's comparable because it has to do with my feeling, with respect about who I think ... I am, my identity," he said.

The court said Ratelband failed to convince the judges that he suffers from age discrimination, adding that "there are other alternatives available for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a person's date of birth."

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