Is age exceptional? Challenging existing rationales and exploring realities

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Age, as a ground of discrimination, has always been treated differently and various rationales have been put forward to support this exceptional treatment. Age is not immutable, like other grounds of discrimination, and the complete life equality view is often used to justify its differential treatment. Additionally, age is viewed as lacking a legacy of disadvantage which often marks out other grounds of discrimination as deserving of more strict scrutiny. Finally, age is also perceived to be a socially acceptable way of organising our societies, prompting legislatures and judiciaries worldwide to treat age with less suspicion than other grounds of discrimination. However, this article seeks to debunk these myths regarding age as a ground of discrimination and to put forward strong arguments in favour of full equality for the age ground by tackling commonly held viewpoints on immutability and disadvantage in the age context and by unpicking the weakness of arguments surrounding age-based social norms. More importantly, it argues that existing anti-discrimination law is sufficiently flexible to handle the intricacies of the age ground. Indeed, treating age as exceptional, only seeks to further entrench perceptions of difference which in themselves are perpetuating discrimination on grounds of age.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHarvard Human Rights Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Feb 2023


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