Swatch roasts Malaysian government for raids on its rainbow watches


Malaysian officials raid Swatch stores over rainbow watches
Image: courtesy of Swatch Malaysia

Swiss watchmaker Swatch has roasted the Malaysian government over anti-gay raids on its stores and confiscation of rainbow Pride Collection watches.

Ahead of Pride Month, the company put the range of coloured Pride watches out for sale (pictured above).

But the company confirmed Ministry of Home Affairs officials raided a number of its stores in Malaysian shopping centres this month.

The officials seized the watches because they “bore LGBT connotations,” the Associated Press reported.

In a statement, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek Jr pointed out the obvious in response to the raids.

“We strongly contest that our collection of watches using rainbow colors and having a message of peace and love could be harmful for whomever,” he said.

“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.”

Happily, the watches are back on sale in Malaysia and the company says it’s looking at legal options.

‘Deeply unsettling level of intolerance’ in Malaysia

Malaysia is predominantly Muslim and criminalizes same-sex relationships. Punishments under the colonial-era laws still on the books include caning or jail.

Local queer rights group Jejaka also blasted the government raids on the businesses.

The group said they were an “unwarranted crackdown” on freedom of expression and showed “a deeply unsettling level of intolerance”. Jejaka also demanded the government explain their legal basis.

“It is more than a matter of colorful watches. It’s about respect for diversity, freedom of expression, and, most importantly, love,” a spokesperson said.

The group urged the government to promote “a culture of acceptance and understanding rather than repression and discrimination”.

The store seizures echo bizarre homophobic raids last June in Saudi Arabia, where officials toured retail stores with TV cameras, confiscating rainbow-coloured toys for “promoting homosexuality”.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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