KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Malaysian authorities did not just seize Swatch watches bearing the wording “LGBT” — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender — but had actually also seized watches from the 2023 Pride collection which do not carry it, the Swiss watch company has said.
Swatch Malaysia yesterday responded to news reports which claimed that the Home Ministry's recent seizure of Swatch watches was due to the “LGBT” wording on them, saying that only one of the watch models seized featured the “LGBT” wording while the others did not have such a word.
“In relation to the recently published news stating that all confiscated Swatch watches bear LGBT wording, Swatch Malaysia does not agree with the statement.
“The concerned watches are from this year’s collection and do not bear any LGBT wording on dial, strap or case,” it said in a statement.
Swatch Malaysia also provided a link to its website which showed its 2023 Pride collection, and provided photographs to prove that these watches without LGBT wording were seized by the Home Ministry during recent raids.
Based on Swatch's website, its 2023 Pride collection features six watches in the individual colours of the LGBT movement's six-striped Pride Flag, with these watches coming with two “rainbow loops” which form the Pride Flag when the loops are placed together. These six designs each have a word on its minute hand to explain the meaning of each coloured stripe in the Pride Flag, but do not carry the LGBT wording.
“The only watch confiscated with LGBT wording is from last year’s collection,” Swatch Malaysia added.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was yesterday afternoon reported by local daily Berita Harian to have said that his ministry acted on public complaints to seize a Swatch watch model that had the word “LGBTQ” printed on it and which was not sold in other countries such as the United Arab Emirates.
While Malaysian authorities had so far cited alleged “LGBT” wording on Swatch watches to justify the seizure, Swatch has been insisting that not all of the Swatch watches seized in Malaysia had LGBT wording.
Malay Mail reported that the Home Ministry had seized 172 Swatch watches from 11 shopping malls in Malaysia from May 13 to May 15, with the seized watches actually being of nine different designs.
The nine different designs which were seized in Malaysia are: the six different coloured-designs under Swatch's 2023 Pride collection, the “Stripe Fierce” model, the “Alla Parata” model, and the “Peace Hand Love” model.
Only the “Stripe Fierce” model has the abbreviation “LGBTQIA2S” on it along with rainbow loops. “LGBTQIA2S” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit, which serves to symbolise the inclusion of minority sexual and gender identities.
Malay Mail cannot yet independently verify that this model is not sold in the UAE.
On May 25, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he did not have enough details to comment on the seizure of 172 Swatch watches and would leave it to the Home Ministry to explain, but said he only knew that the seizure was due to the watches having “LGBT symbols” instead of due to the watches' colours.