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Eugenio Mantovani, Paul Quinn and Paul de Hert

The 2014 Chicago Declaration on the Human Rights of Older Persons, one of the most recent, informal efforts to establish the human rights status of older persons, sets out to tackle ageism, the stereotyping, stigmatization and/or discrimination of persons because of their advanced age. Departing from this non-binding Declaration drafted by lawyers well-versed in law and in gerontology, this chapter asks to what extent discrimination law is open to influencing ageist stereotyping and stigma. The authors focus on a series of selected cases from the European Court of Human Rights. The goal of the legal analysis is to learn if, and what kind of (legal) responses are available to ageist stereotyping and “other forms of discrimination”. Our analysis lends support to the claim that the European Court is partially open to influence ageist stereotyping. The law however does not reach anti-ageing expressions and messages. This situation falls short of the expectation of the drafters of the Chicago Declaration. The so called 2014 Chicago Declaration on the Human Rights of Older Persons, one of the most recent, informal, efforts to establish the human rights status of older persons, sets out to tackle ageism, the stereotyping, stigmatization, and/or discrimination of persons because of their advanced age. Departing from this non-binding Declaration drafted by lawyers well-versed in law and in gerontology, this article asks to what extent discrimination law is open to influencing bias, stereotypes, prejudices, and stigma of older persons (which the Chicago Declaration calls “forms of discrimination”). The authors draw the attention to a selected series of court cases from the European Court of Human Rights. Our analysis lends support to the claim that the European court is only partially open to influence ageist stereotyping. Anti-discrimination law however does not reach anti-ageing expressions and messages. This situation falls short of the expectation of the drafters of the Chicago Declaration but may represent the limits of what is possible for discrimination law in a democratic society that respects liberty of expression.