The 1975 frontman Matty Healy kissed bandmate Ross MacDonald on stage in Malaysia on Friday (Screencap source: Lila / YouTube)
Authorities halted a music festival in Malaysia following an on-stage same-sex kiss by The 1975 lead singer, Matty Healy, resulting in the English band being banned from the conservative, Muslim-majority country.
During a performance at the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Healy spoke out against Malaysia’s criminalisation of homosexuality.
“I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with. Unfortunately, you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m furious,” Healy passionately addressed the crowd.
“And that’s not fair on you, because you’re not representative of your government. Because you’re young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive and cool.”
He then proceeded to lock lips with bandmate and bass player Ross MacDonald for a lingering 20-second kiss, drawing cheers from the audience. Social media videos captured the moment.
This is not the first time the band have taken a stand against homophobia. In 2019, Healy risked arrest when he kissed a male fan at a concert in Dubai, where homosexuality is also illegal.
Shortly after Friday’s kiss, The 1975 left the stage midway through their performance, with Healy informing the audience, “All right, we gotta go. We just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, I’ll see you later.”
The Malaysian Ministry of Communications also compelled the festival organisers to cancel the remainder of the event.
“We deeply regret to announce that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival 2023 (GVF2023), planned for today and tomorrow has been cancelled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matty Healy from the band The 1975,” stated the organisers.
Additionally, The 1975 announced that their upcoming scheduled performances in Indonesia and Taiwan were also canceled.
“The band never takes the decision to cancel a show lightly and had been eagerly looking forward to playing for fans in Jakarta and Taipei, but unfortunately, due to current circumstances, it is impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows,” the band said in a statement.
Homosexuality remains a social taboo in Malaysia and is punishable with penalties of up to 20 years in jail under colonial-era sodomy laws. State-based Sharia (Islamic religious) laws also criminalise homosexuality, with offenders often subjected to public caning.
Transgender women can be charged with “public indecency,” and those who are Muslim may fall foul of Sharia laws banning cross-dressing.