A Malaysian court ruled Wednesday that Swatch can challenge the seizure of more than 100 Pride-themed watches, the Swiss company’s lawyer said.
The government in Malaysia — where homosexuality is outlawed and LGBTQ people face widespread discrimination — has banned rainbow-themed Swatch timepieces, warning that owners or sellers face up to three years in prison.
In May, authorities raided Swatch stores at 11 malls across Malaysia, confiscating 172 watches they described as having “LGBT elements”.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled Wednesday that Swatch can challenge that seizure through a judicial review, the company’s lawyer Nizam Bashir told AFP.
“The court has agreed to hear Swatch’s application for the return of the watches and damages,” he said.
The court is expected to schedule a hearing on September 6, Nizam added.
In its suit challenging the seizure, Swatch said its “trading reputation has been damaged”.
“The watches did not promote any sexual activity, but merely a fun and joyous expression of peace and love,” it said in the suit, which seeks the return of the items as well as unspecified damages.
The Malaysian government said these watches “may harm… the interests of the nation by promoting, supporting and normalising the LGBTQ+ movement that is not accepted by the general public”.
The seizure was based on Malaysia’s Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984, which critics have condemned as draconian.