In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Home Affairs Ministry took possession of Swatch watches from the brand’s Pride Collection, which showcases vibrant rainbow colors. Reports indicate that 11 stores were subjected to raids in the past week. This particular collection consists of watches available in six colors that align with the flag representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
The Edge reported that the raids conducted at various Swatch stores in Malaysia took place over two days, commencing on May 13.
In response to the confiscation, Nick Hayek Jr., the CEO of Swatch Group, emphasized that the brand has a longstanding tradition of using its lively and playful watches to celebrate individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Swatch takes pride in being a universal platform for people worldwide and collaborating with numerous artists. Hayek strongly refuted any notion that their collection of rainbow-colored watches, which convey a message of peace and love, could be detrimental to anyone.
He further stated that Swatch consistently promotes a positive message of joy in life and firmly asserted that this issue is devoid of any political implications. Hayek questioned how the Regulatory and Enforcement Division of the Home Affairs Ministry could seize the countless beautiful natural rainbows that appear in Malaysia’s sky throughout the year, highlighting the apparent contradiction. Following the initial report by The Edge, additional local media sources confirmed that the raids occurred at multiple stores located in different shopping malls across the Klang Valley. These incidents took place specifically on May 13 and 14.
Stores in Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Johor, and Sarawak were reportedly issued warning notices, as mentioned by various sources. Swatch has expressed its appeal to the Home Affairs Ministry for the return of the confiscated watches, as reported by The Edge.
The watches in question featured six colors instead of the traditional seven-color rainbow. These colors align with one of the well-known symbols of the LGBT community, the six-color pride flag. According to Free Malaysia Today, the seizure of the watches followed online users connecting the watch collection to Coldplay, a British rock band known for its support of the LGBT community. This connection was made after the announcement of Coldplay’s upcoming concert in Malaysia scheduled for November. Criticism of the event arose when a leader from the Islamist party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) called for its cancellation through a Facebook post on May 10.
Alongside the Facebook post, several images were shared depicting Coldplay’s lead vocalist, Chris Martin, holding a rainbow flag—a symbol commonly associated with the LGBT community—during a performance at London’s Wembley Stadium.
According to The Malaysian Insight (TMI), Religious Affairs Minister Mohd Na’im Mokhtar stated on Tuesday (May 23) that the government has implemented measures to counter the propagation of LGBT ideology. These initiatives include rehabilitation programs organized by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and overseen by a Special Committee on Muslim LGBT Issues in Malaysia.
Mr. Mohd Na’im explained that the committee convenes at least once a year or as necessary, comprising various ministries, departments, agencies, and NGOs. Its primary objective is to address LGBT-related matters among Muslims, focusing on education, advocacy, Islamic propagation (da’wah), guidance, and enforcement.
The minister further clarified that although Malaysia does not officially recognize the LGBT movement, the government aims to avoid discrimination against individuals belonging to the community.