By Heather Chen, Teele Rebane and Lauren Kent, CNN
(CNN) — A music festival in Malaysia has been canceled after the lead singer of British band The 1975 Matty Healy slammed the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws and kissed a bandmate on stage.
The on-stage incident at the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur on Friday night prompted the country’s Ministry of Communications to cancel the rest of the three-day event.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Malaysia and punishable by fines and up to 20 years in prison.
In an expletive-laden speech during the band’s headline performance on Friday, captured in a video shared widely on social media, Healy said, “I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”
“Unfortunately, you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m f***ing furious. And that’s not fair on you, because you’re not representative of your government. You are young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive,” he said addressing the audience. Healy added that the band considered canceling the show but decided against it to not disappoint the fans.
“If you want to invite me here to do a show, you can f*** off. I’ll take your money, you can ban me, but I’ve done this before and it doesn’t feel good,” Healy says in the video before bassist Ross MacDonald walks up to him and kisses him on stage.
The Good Vibes Festival said in a statement following the incident, “We deeply regret to announce 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 Ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule, or contravene Malaysian laws,” the festival’s statement added. “We sincerely apologize to all of our ticket holders, vendors, sponsors, and partners.”
Communications Minister Fahmi said Malaysia was committed to supporting the development of creative industries and freedom of expression, Reuters reported.
“However, never touch on the sensitivities of the community, especially those that are against the traditions and values of the local culture,” he said, according to the agency.
CNN has reached out to the Malaysian Home Affairs Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office for comment.
Healy’s actions sparked controversy online, with some fans complaining that the band’s actions will result in a further crackdown on artistic expression and make it more difficult for music artists to perform in Malaysia in the future.
Members of Malaysa’s LGBTQ community have also criticized Healy’s actions, with some calling it “performative” and warning that it could lead to further discrimination.
It’s not the first time The 1975 frontman has sparked controversy – Healy drew criticism earlier this year for appearing to do a Nazi salute on stage during a song called “Love it If We Made It”, as he sang lyrics that are critical of Kanye West.
In 2019, Healy kissed a male fan during a concert in Dubai, in defiance of the region’s anti-LGBT laws.
Healy later posted on Twitter: “Thank you Dubai you were so amazing. I don’t think we’ll be allowed back due to my ‘behaviour’ but know that I love you and I wouldn’t have done anything differently given the chance again.”
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