The 1975 Cancels Shows in Asia Following Ban From Malaysia

The British pop-rock group The 1975 has opted to call off their forthcoming performances in Indonesia and Taiwan, following an abrupt end to their show in Malaysia under contentious circumstances.

Frontman Matty Healy took a strong stance against Malaysia’s anti-LGBT legislation last Friday by kissing Ross MacDonald, the band’s bassist, on stage, which promptly led to the group’s prohibition from performing in the country.

In Malaysia, homosexuality is deemed unlawful and can result in a 20-year prison sentence. Although it’s frowned upon, homosexuality is not outlawed in the majority of Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim.

Nevertheless, it is strictly prohibited in the more conservative province of Aceh in Indonesia.

Citing “current circumstances”, The 1975 announced that they had decided to call off their concerts in Indonesia and Taiwan, without providing additional details.

Taiwan is generally viewed as a nation that embraces the LGBT community, being the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriages.

In a message released by We The Fest, a musical festival held in Jakarta, Indonesia, where The 1975 was set to perform on Sunday, the band revealed that the existing circumstances made it “impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows”.

The LGBT community in Malaysia expressed frustration over Friday’s incident and feared that the increased visibility could result in more prejudice and bias.

At the Kuala Lumpur gig on Friday, frontman Healy stated: “I don’t see the (expletive) point, right, 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 [expletive] furious,” Healy went on.

“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 proceeded to kiss MacDonald, his bandmate, as they performed the track “I Like America & America Likes Me.”

After the kiss, Healy and his band exited the stage about 30 minutes into the performance, with Healy informing the audience: “Alright, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”

On the following day, Saturday, the festival authorities announced that the rest of the festival performances had been cancelled.

The choice was made following an “immediate cancellation directive” from the Malaysian Ministry of Communications and Digital in a firm stance against any entities that dispute, mock or violate Malaysian legislation, according to a press release.

Carmen Rose, a Malaysian drag queen, referred to Healy’s criticism of the anti-LGBT laws as “performative” and “unruly”.

With upcoming elections in Malaysia, Rose mentioned that politicians may exploit the incident as a “scapegoat”.

“It gives them (conservative politicians) more ammo to further their homophobic agenda to gain votes,” she said.

When asked about living as part of the LGBT community in Malaysia, Rose stated “the government is not on our side”, adding she can’t freely perform as a drag artist in the country, instead traveling to Singapore for her shows.

Rose highlighted that the mental well-being of the LGBT community has been severely impacted by constant scrutiny and denigration from the government and general public.

“Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community,” an insider close to The 1975 mentioned on Friday night.

Healy has previously utilized his stage appearances to shed light on anti-LGBT legislation.

In 2019, during a concert in Dubai, he invited a male fan on stage which sparked backlash in the country where homosexuality could lead to a decade-long jail sentence.

After the concert, Healy tweeted: “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.”