Jul 23, 2023 at 8:47 am BST
Updated 1 hour ago
Image source: Getty Images
British pop-rock band The 1975 have canceled upcoming concerts in Indonesia and Taiwan after their performance in Malaysia was controversially cut short.
Lead singer Matty Healy attacked Malaysia’s anti-LGBT laws on Friday and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on stage – the band was promptly banned from performing in the country.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and carries a 20-year prison sentence.
It is avoided in most Muslim-majority areas of Indonesia, but is not illegal.
But it’s banned in Indonesia’s conservative province of Aceh.
The band said they canceled their performances in Indonesia and Taiwan “due to the current circumstances,” without elaborating.
Taiwan is widely regarded as a country that welcomes the LGBT community. It was the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
In a statement from We The Fest, a music festival in the Indonesian capital Jakarta where The 1975 were scheduled to perform on Sunday, the band said current circumstances made it “impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows”.
Some members of Malaysia’s LGBT community were frustrated by Friday’s events and feared that drawing attention to their community could lead to more stigma and discrimination.
On Friday, lead singer Healy said on stage in Kuala Lumpur: “I don’t see it.” [expletive] Period, right, I see no point in inviting the 1975s into a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.
“Unfortunately, you don’t get a lot of uplifting songs because I am [expletive] angry,” the frontman continued.
“And that’s not fair to you because you’re not representative of your government. Because you’re young people and I’m sure a lot of you are gay, progressive and cool.”
Healy then kissed his bandmate MacDonald while the band played the song “I Like America & America Likes Me.”
Shortly after the kiss, Healy and the band left the stage, about 30 minutes into the set. The singer told the audience, “Okay, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”
On Saturday, festival organizers announced that the remaining line-up for the festival had been cancelled.
The decision came following an “immediate deletion order” from the Malaysian Ministry of Communications and Digital as part of its “unwavering stance towards any party who challenges, ridicules or violates Malaysian law,” a statement said.
Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose said Healy’s attack on anti-LGBT laws was “performative” and “unruly”.
Speaking to BBC World Service’s Newshour, Rose said: “It gives the white savior a complex and he.” [Matty Healy] didn’t do it for our community.
“If he did it for our community,” she added, “he would know the consequences we would face.”
With state elections approaching in Malaysia, Rose said politicians were using the event as a “scapegoat”.
“There are them [conservative politicians] more ammunition to push their homophobic agenda and win votes,” she added.
When asked about life in Malaysia as part of the LGBT community, Rose said “the government is not on our side” and she cannot freely pursue her profession as a drag artist in the country – instead she travels to Singapore to perform.
Rose said the mental health of the LGBT community has been severely affected by constant scrutiny and criticism from government and society.
“Matty has a long history of standing up for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and the LGBTQ+ community,” a source close to The 1975 said Friday night.
Healy has used stage appearances to draw attention to anti-LGBT laws.
Back in 2019, during a performance in Dubai, he invited a male fan onto the stage. The incident drew criticism in the country, where homosexuality carries a 10-year prison sentence.
After the show, Healy tweeted: “Thank you Dubai you were so amazing. I don’t think my ‘behaviour’ will allow us to go back, but I know I love you and wouldn’t have done anything differently if I had the chance again.”