Malaysia cancels music festival after same-sex kiss incident involving British band The 1975

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 (Reuters) – Malaysia’s government on Saturday criticized the country’s anti-LGBT laws after the frontman of British pop-rock band The 1975 kissed a male bandmate on stage. , canceled a music festival in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“We are against any political party that challenges, disrespects or violates Malaysian laws,” Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said in a tweet after meeting with organizers of the three-day Good Vibes Festival, scheduled to end on Sunday. There will be no compromise,” he said.

The 1975 were also banned from performing in Malaysia, according to a government committee that oversees filming and performances by foreigners.

Homosexuality is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Human rights groups have warned that intolerance towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is on the rise.

A video posted on social media late Friday showed Healy kissing bassist Ross McDonald after criticizing Malaysia’s stance on homosexuality in a profane speech to a festival audience. .

“I made a mistake. I didn’t look into it when I was booking the show,” he said. “I don’t see the point in inviting The 1975 to a country and telling them who they can have sex with.”

Healy then ended his set and told the crowd, “Okay, I have to go. I just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, so I’ll see you later.”

The band could not be reached for comment. Healy appeared to joke about the incident on her Instagram Story, with the caption: “Okay, why don’t you just try not to have a relationship with Ross for 20 years? It’s not as easy as it looks.” Posted a festival cancellation notice.

Healy was criticized for kissing a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has laws against homosexual acts, media reported.

Festival organizer Future Sound Asia (FSA) apologized for canceling the show following Healy’s “controversial actions and statements”. The 1975’s management said the band was committed to following performance guidelines.

“Unfortunately, Healy did not honor these warranties,” the company said in a statement.

The festival was scheduled to feature 43 performances by local and international artists over a three-day weekend. Friday’s headline act was The 1975, while Australian singer The Kid LaRoy and American band The Strokes were the main event on Saturday and Sunday. Performances on both days have been cancelled.

The FSA expressed concern that the incident could “undermine the trust of music promoters and a range of stakeholders and threaten the stability of the burgeoning live arts scene”.

Communications Minister Fahmi said Malaysia is committed to developing the creative industry and supporting freedom of expression.

“However, never touch on community sensitivities, especially those that go against local cultural traditions and values,” he said.

According to media reports, in March the government introduced stricter guidelines, including dress codes and conduct, for foreigners coming to Malaysia, citing the need to protect sensitivities.

Friday’s incident sparked an uproar on Malaysian social media, including some members of the LGBT community, who accused Mr Healy of “performative activism” and accused his actions of further upsetting the community. They argued that it could expose them to prejudice and discrimination.

Malaysian drag queen and performer Carmen Rose said: “Matt Healy has definitely only made things worse for the queer Malaysians who actually live here and he will have to face the consequences. “Because we all know that our politicians are going to use this to advance their own agenda.” twitter.

The 1975 are scheduled to perform at a festival on Sunday in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, where recent LGBT events have been canceled due to security threats.

Jakarta festival organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the band would perform.

The unrest comes at a politically sensitive time in multi-ethnic Malaysia, with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s progressive coalition government facing its first major test of public support in August when elections will be held in six states. You will have to face it.

A coalition of opposition parties, mainly representing the majority Malay community, accused the government of not doing enough to protect the rights of Muslims.

The prime minister said the government supports Islamic principles and does not recognize LGBT rights.

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Report by Rosanna Latif. Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina in Jakarta.Editing: William Mallard, Robert Barthel, Nick McPhee

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