It isn’t uncommon for Matty Healy, frontman of indie rock darlings The 1975, to share a kiss with a stranger on stage as part of his performance. Innocent as it might seem, that practice led to a world of trouble for his band and the festival that booked them when Healy kissed bass player Ross MacDonald during their set at the annual Good Vibes Festival in Malaysia.
On Saturday, the government canceled the remainder of the weekend-long event, which was scheduled to run until Sunday. On top of that, The 1975 have been banned from ever performing in Malaysia again, saying that the group displayed “rude” actions and statements.
In a Tweet, Malaysia’s communication minister Fahmi Fadzil said: “The government is always committed to supporting the development of creative industries and freedom of expression. However, never touch the sensitivities of the community, especially those that are against the manners and values of the local culture.”
The incident occurred in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, on Friday night. During their set, Healy told the audience that it was a “mistake” for the pop rock band to come to the country.
“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,” said Healy.
The frontman went on to deliver a rousing diatribe criticizing the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws. After the speech, he gestured for bassist Ross MacDonald to come closer. The two musicians embraced before launching into “I Like America and America Likes Me.”
A Muslim-majority nation, homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. A statement on the Good Vibes Festival from Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications reads “against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws.”
Although The 1975 were scheduled to perform in Indonesia on Sunday and Taiwan on Tuesday, the band canceled those concerts at short notice on Sunday morning. A statement on the We The Fest Instagram page reads: “The 1975 regret to announce that their forthcoming shows in Jakarta and Taipei will no longer be going ahead as planned. The band never take 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.”
While there are local laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in Indonesia, homosexuality is not a crime in the country on a national level. As for Taiwan, the country is home to a large LGBTQ community.