Malaysia has banned LGBT-themed Swatch watches, warning violators of jail time of up to three years.
The government’s decision: On Thursday, the Malaysian government banned Swatch Group’s watches and accessories, including wrappers and boxes, that celebrate and promote LGBTQ+ rights, citing concerns that the Swiss watchmaker’s products are detrimental to the nation’s morality.
“(Swatch products) are subject to the Prohibition Order because they are publications that harm or may harm morality, public interest, and the interest of the state by promoting, supporting, and normalizing the LGBTQ+ movement which is not accepted by the general public in Malaysia,” the Home Ministry said, according to Reuters.
Individuals found in possession of LGBT-themed Swatch products face up to three years in jail and a fine of up to 20,000 ringgit (approximately $4,375).
Malaysia’s laws: Homosexuality and same-sex relationships are criminalized in the predominantly Muslim country, with punishments ranging from caning under Islamic laws to sodomy under colonial-era civil laws with up to 20 years in prison.
Swatch raid: In May, law enforcement raided Swatch stores at 11 shopping malls, confiscating more than 160 watches from its Pride Collection. The incident led Swatch to sue the government for damages. The company is currently awaiting the lawsuit’s hearing, which is scheduled for later this month.
Malaysia blacklists British band: In July, the Malaysian government stopped a music festival in Kuala Lumpur after Matty Healey, the lead singer of the British pop-rock band The 1975, kissed a male bandmate onstage and criticized the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
Malaysia has blacklisted the group from the country, and the organizers of the Good Vibes Festival has ordered the band to pay $2.6 million in damages within seven days or face legal action for their alleged breach of contract.