The interior ministry of Malaysia has warned that individuals who purchase rainbow-coloured watches made by Swatch, a Swiss watch company, may be imprisoned for up to three years.
Malaysia prohibits homosexuality and discriminates against LGBTQ+ individuals.
In May, Malaysia’s law enforcement unit from the interior ministry raided 11 shopping malls across the country, including Kuala Lumpur, to search for timepieces containing “LGBT elements.”
The ministry announced on Thursday that individuals who distribute or wear watches may be subject to imprisonment for up to three years, as per the ban notice.
The Malaysian government stated that it is committed to preventing the spread of harmful or potentially harmful elements, as per its statement.
The report warned that the watches could harm the LGBTQ+ movement by promoting and advancing it in ways that are not commonly accepted by the general public.
A ministry official informed Agence France-Presse that during raids, 172 watches worth $14,000 (£10,960) were confiscated because of their six colors and the “LGBTQ” acronym.
One of the most famous LGBTQ flags globally is the Pride flag, which features six different rainbow colors.
The seizure was based on the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984, according to the summons notice, which critics have labeled as severe.
The Malaysian government was sued by Swatch in June for the seizure, which claimed that the watches were not promoting sexual activity, but rather a joyful demonstration of peace and love.
The upcoming elections in six Malaysian states on Saturday will provide insight into the public’s opinion of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’S unity government against a powerful opposition made up of both Malay and Muslim political parties.
The opposition has criticized him for not doing enough to protect Malaysia’s Islamic values. Anwar maintains that his government will not support LGBTQ rights.