Tuesday 15 October 2019

Dutch ‘positivity guru’ launches legal bid to lower his age

Emile Ratelband says he wants to avoid age discrimination in society.

Self-styled Dutch positivity guru Emile Ratelband wants to change his age (Peter Dejong/AP)
Self-styled Dutch positivity guru Emile Ratelband wants to change his age (Peter Dejong/AP)

By Mike Corder, Associated Press

A Dutch “positivity guru” has asked a court to approve his request for a new birthday in order to lower his age to 49.

TV personality Emile Ratelband, 69, says his legal appeal is consistent with other forms of personal transformation that are gaining acceptance and government recognition in the Netherlands and around the world.

“With this free(dom) of choice, choice of name, freeness of gender, I want to have my own age. I want to control myself,” he said.

Mr Ratelband says he wants to avoid age discrimination in society — especially on dating websites.

“So when I ask for a mortgage, for example, they say it’s impossible,” he said. “If I go on Tinder, then I get women from 68, 69, when women are there.”

“I don’t want to lie,” he said. “I want to be myself, so don’t force me to lie.”

Emile Ratelband answers questions during an interview in Utrecht, Netherlands (Peter Dejong/AP)

Marjolein van den Brink, who specialises in human rights and gender issues at Utrecht University’s law school, said age discrimination is a problem but is different from the issues involved in reassigning gender.

“It’s quite clear that elderly people have a much smaller chance of getting a job than younger people,” she said. “But that’s just one element and it’s only something that happens to you once you reach the age of 40, 45, 50, depending a bit on your job.

“Whereas gender is something that follows you from birth to grave, and it determines nearly everything — and not just in the labour market but everywhere,” she said.

Mr Ratelband said the Dutch government could benefit if it were to accept his age demand. He said he would be happy to forfeit his monthly pension of around 1,200 euros (£1,000) — a concession he estimates would save nearly 300,000 euros (£261,000) over the 20 years he wants shaved off his age.

The court in the central city of Arnhem is expected to issue a ruling in about four weeks.

Mr Ratelband, who makes a living urging people and businesses to be positive, denies that the age request is a publicity stunt. He claims he is seeking a personal positive effect.

“Now I’m an old man. I have to save my money to give to my kids so that they can live,” said the father of seven. “But if I have that age again, I have hope again. I’m new again. The whole future is there for me again.”

PA Media

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