Pride Apple Watch face blocked by Apple in Russia

If you’re wearing an Apple Watch in Russia and want to use the pride Apple Watch face, you’re out of luck. The face is “hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale,” according to iOS developer Guilherme Rambo and later confirmed by The Verge.

First introduced in June at the start of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), the pride watch face is inspired by the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community. The face’s introduction two months ago made sense given Apple’s often-cited commitment to “equality and diversity” and long-time support of Project (RED). Unfortunately, it seems that commitment doesn’t always extend when politics are involved.

Since 2013, Russia has pushed a “gay propaganda” law that many, including the European Court of Human Rights, has ruled reinforces prejudice and encourages homophobia. Jail time is possible for those who break the law. No doubt, it’s because of this law that Apple’s special pride edition Apple Watch strap is also not available in Russia.

Although it would be easy to criticize Apple for not allowing either the pride watch face or strap in Russia, there are two points to consider.

First, there’s the law. A company can’t go around breaking local rules, even if those laws are abhorrent to much of the civilized world. Second, you can make the argument that Apple’s decision was made to protect the LGBTQ community in Russia from possible discrimination and maybe jail time.

This doesn’t mean Apple should remain silent on this issue. Apple CEO Tim Cook, a gay man, should remind the world of the company’s commitment to diversity and explain why it took the steps that it did in Russia. Remaining silent isn’t acceptable and to many, might come off as hypocritical.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.