English band The 1975, and frontman Matty Healy, protested Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws during a festival performance, and the government subsequently shut the entire festival down as a result.
During their set at the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Healy kissed his fellow bandmate, Ross MacDonald, and delivered a fiery speech condemning the nation’s homophobic legislation.
“I do not see the f**king point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” Healy declared in a speech during the show. “Unfortunately, you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m f**king furious.”
“And that’s not fair on you, because you’re not representative of your government,” Healy added, addressing the audience. “You are young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive, and cool.”
During the speech — which was shared widely on social media — Healy said he and his bandmates discussed canceling their appearance at the festival all together, but decided against disappointing their fans in the country, and used the appearance to deliver a message.
“If you want to invite me here to do a show, you can f**k off,” he said. “I’ll take your money, you can ban me, but I’ve done this before and it doesn’t feel good.”
MacDonald and Healy then kissed on stage. The action violated Malaysia’s restrictive laws, which state that homosexual acts are illegal and punishable by both fines and potentially up to 20 years in prison.
The Good Vibes Festival announced shortly after that the “remaining schedule of the Good Vibes Festival 2023, planned for today and tomorrow has been canceled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matty Healy from the band The 1975.”
“This decision adheres to the immediate cancellation directive issued at 1:20 pm [local time], 22 July 2023, by the Ministry of Communications and Digital,” the festival added in their statement. “The Ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule, or contravene Malaysian laws.”
In response to their posted statement, Healy joked in a post on his Instagram story, “Ok well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”
However, Healy’s actions have led to divisive debate online, with some fans supporting his protest, while several LBGTQ+ groups in Malaysia have expressed concern that the band’s actions could lead to even more restrictive legislation and discrimination from the government in response.
Following their Malaysia performance, The 1975 subsequently canceled upcoming shows in Indonesia and Taiwan.