Swiss watch giant Swatch revealed Tuesday that Malaysian officials have raided and confiscated 164 watches from their Pride Collection.
The company claimed that the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs raided their stores in various malls throughout Malaysia on May 13 & 14. The watches were reportedly seized because they featured “LGBT connotations.”
In a statement released by the Swatch group, CEO Nick Hayek Jr. said that they “strongly contest” that their “collection of watches using rainbow colors and having a message of peace and love could be harmful for whomever.” Adding that, “on the contrary, Swatch always promotes a positive message of joy in life. This is nothing political. We wonder how the Regulatory and Enforcement Division of the Home Ministry will confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that are showing up a thousand times a year in the sky of Malaysia.”
Same-sex relationships are criminalized in Malaysia and are punishable both under Islamic law & colonial-era civil laws. These punishments range from caning to 20 years in prison.
Swatch stated that they will continue selling the watches while their legal department looks into the raids.
Local activists have responded by urging the government to promote a culture of tolerance & acceptance. “It is more than a matter of colorful watches. It’s about respect for diversity, freedom of expression, and, most importantly, love,” gay rights group Jejaka said in a statement.