Malaysian authorities cancelled a weekend music festival on Saturday after the frontman of a British indie rock group kissed his male bandmate following a tirade against the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and laws criminalising sodomy are punishable by imprisonment. LGBTQ people in the country also face regular discrimination by authorities.
British rockers The 1975 cut their Friday show at the Good Vibes music festival short after lead singer Matty Healy slammed Malaysia’s anti-gay laws in a profanity-filled speech, before kissing bassist Ross MacDonald on stage.
Healy told fans the band had thought of pulling out of the event, saying: “I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”
He later abruptly ended the set, saying: “All right, we gotta go. We just got banned from Kuala Lumpur.”
The on-stage protest was not a first for Healy, who kissed a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has tough anti-LGBTQ laws.
Vowing swift action early Saturday, Malaysian Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil posted a news report about the kiss and called it a “very rude act”.
He later ordered the “immediate cancellation” of the three-day festival after meeting with organisers.
“Never touch the sensitivities of the community, especially those that are against the manners and values of the local culture,” he said in a subsequent tweet.
In a statement also posted to Twitter, the festival confirmed the cancellation had been at the direction of the communications ministry “following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matty Healy”.
“The Ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule, or contravene Malaysian laws,” the statement added.
The Good Vibes festival was scheduled to run through the weekend, with US band The Strokes set to headline on Sunday.
The episode comes two months after authorities seized over a hundred rainbow-coloured, Pride-themed watches from Swiss watchmaker Swatch.
The company has since sued the government, seeking damages while demanding a return of the watches.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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