The British pop-rock band the 1975 have cancelled forthcoming concerts in Indonesia and Taiwan after their gig in Malaysia was cut short.
The band were banned from playing in Malaysia after the lead singer, Matty Healy, criticised the country’s anti-LGBT laws on stage in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in prison.
“I don’t see the fucking point of inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” Healy said. “Unfortunately you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m fucking furious.
“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.”
Healy then kissed bass player Ross MacDonald as they played the song I Like America & America Likes Me. About 30 minutes later the band walked off stage, with Healy telling the audience: “All right, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”
The following day, organisers of Malaysia’s Good Vibes festival announced that its remaining lineup had been cancelled.
The decision was made after an “immediate cancellation directive” from Malaysia’s ministry of communications and digital as part of its “unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws”, a statement said.
In a statement shared by We the Fest, a music festival in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, where the 1975 were scheduled to perform on Sunday, the band said they had cancelled their forthcoming shows in Jakarta and Taipei.
“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 did not elaborate on the circumstances.
Despite several local bylaws discriminating against LGBTQ+ people in Indonesia, its national laws have never made homosexuality a criminal offence.
But there have been attempts to criminalise homosexuality by conservative politicians and groups, while gay couples often face discrimination in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. The Indonesian government and festival organisers have yet to comment on the cancellation.
Taiwan is largely seen as a country that welcomes the LGBT community, and was the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.
The onstage 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.
But some of Malaysia’s LGBT community were frustrated by events on Friday and worried the incident would lead to further discrimination.
Carmen Rose, a Malaysian drag queen, told the BBC Healy’s actions were “performative” and “unruly”. “If he was doing it for our community,” she added, “he would know what consequences we would have to go through.”