Swatch sues Malaysia over Pride watch seizures

Swiss watchmaker Swatch says it has begun legal proceedings against the Malaysian government for seizing LGBTQ-themed watches from its stores.

The move comes after officials impounded 172 watches from its rainbow-coloured Pride collection, on sale at shopping malls across Malaysia.

Swatch wants damages and the return of the watches, worth $14,000 (£10,700).

Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws.

It is punishable by a prison sentence or corporal punishment.

Swatch filed its lawsuit last month at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur. The case is expected to be heard later this week.

The Malaysian authorities said the watches were confiscated in May by the home affairs ministry’s law enforcement unit because they featured “LGBT elements”.

But Swatch said in its lawsuit that the watches were “not in any way capable of causing any disruption to public order or morality or any violations of the law”.

The firm said its trading reputation had been damaged by the seizures, adding that its “business and trading figures also suffered in the immediate aftermath of the seizure for some time”.

In its promotional campaign for the Pride-themed watches, Swatch describes them as “loud, proud, uplifting and bursting with meaning”.

The firm refers to the Pride flag as “a symbol of humanity that speaks for all genders and all races”.

In its lawsuit, Swatch said the watches “did not promote any sexual activity, but merely a fun and joyous expression of peace and love”.

The lawsuit names the home affairs ministry and the government of Malaysia as respondents.

Home Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

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