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Malaysia confiscates ‘LGBT’ rainbow Swatch watches

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Swiss watchmaker Swatch has said Malaysian authorities seized 164 rainbow-coloured watches worth a total of US$14,000 from its Pride collection.LGBT people are discriminated against in Malaysia where homosexuality is forbidden and sodomy can be punished with imprisonment and corporal punishment, although enforcement is rare.Eleven shopping malls with Swatch outlets around Malaysia, including in the capital Kuala Lumpur, were raided on 13-14 May, the company said.

Nick Hayek, CEO of Swatch Group, said: “We strongly contest that our collection of watches using rainbow colours and having a message of peace and love could be harmful.“We wonder how the home ministry’s enforcement unit will confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that are showing up thousand times a year in the sky of Malaysia.”Sarah Kok, marketing manager for Swatch Malaysia, said: “As per instruction from Switzerland HQ, we will still replenish the stock and display them on-shelf.”In a summons notice against one Swatch outlet that was seen by the AFP news agency, the law enforcement unit of Malaysia’s home affairs ministry said “22 Swatch watches with LGBT elements” were confiscated.According to the notice, the seizure was based on the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984, which critics condemn as draconian.

The law is often used to ensure content does not offend or undermine race relations.A ministry official, who did not want to be named, defended the seizure, saying the watches bore the letters “LGBT” and had six colours instead of the seven in a rainbow.The six-colour pride flag is one of the most well-known LGBT symbols.

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