The Malaysian government has issued a statement expressing that any citizen who purchases or sells Swatch watches with LGBTIQ+ patterns could face up to three years in prison. The government claims that the reason for the ban is that it could “harm the country’s moral” values.
Swatch, which is a Swiss company, produced watches with rainbow colors used by the LGBTQ+ flag. The brand’s products were banned in the Muslim-majority region because they could “harm…the interests of the nation by promoting, supporting and normalising the LGBTQ movement that is not accepted by the general public.”
In addition, on Thursday, August 10, the Malaysian government stated that anyone who purchases or sells the LGBTQ+-themed products could face up to three years in prison and might also be held accountable for paying a 20,000 Malaysian ringgit fine, which equals about 4.300 dollars. About the reasons for these repercussions, the government stated:
“The Malaysian government is committed to preventing the spread of elements that are harmful or may be harmful to morals.”
It must be also taken into consideration that being from the LGBTQ+ community is illegal in the Southeast Asian country, and “homosexual acts” are punished with 20 years in prison, according to the US State Department. Members of this community regularly suffer discrimination including criminal penalties, conversion practices intended to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and anti-LGBTQ+ laws made by government officials.
As a response, Swatch filed a lawsuit in June against the Malaysian government over the ban. The company stated that it was not promoting anti-moral values but rather just expressing forms of love. “We did not promote any sexual activity but merely a fun and joyous expression of peace and love.”