The 1975’s Matty Healy faces legal action from Malaysian music festival over on-stage gay kiss

Matty Healy performs on stage in a white vest. He is playing a red electric guitar.

The organisers of Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival have threatened legal action against British band The 1975 after frontman Matty Healy shared a same-sex kiss on stage. 

During the festival’s opening night last month, Healy criticised Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws and kissed his bandmate, bass player Ross MacDonald.

Healy fumed that he had “made a mistake” by agreeing to perform at the show in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.

“I don’t see the f**king point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country, then telling us who we can have sex with,” he told the crowd.

“I’m sorry if that offends you, and you’re religious… I don’t care any more. If you push, I’m gonna push back. I’m not in the f**king mood.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while there is no legal protection against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination or hate crimes.

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Earlier this year, Malaysia was named the second-worst country in the world for trans rights, while in May, Pride-themed watches were seized by Malaysian authorities during raids on Swatch stores.

After making his speech at the festival, Healy kissed MacDonald, to rapturous cheers from the crowd.

However, shortly after the kiss, he told the audience that he had been “banned from Kuala Lumpur” and the band’s set was abruptly cut short.

The three-day event was then cancelled, on the orders of the Malaysian Ministry of Communications and Digital.

Other artists, including rapper The Kid Laroi and rock band The Strokes, were unable to perform their slots.

Future Sound Asia (FSA), the festival’s organisers, have now issued a Letter of Claim to The 1975, and said that they would be taking legal action against the band if compensation is not forthcoming.

FSA claimed that Healy’s “use of abusive language, equipment damage, and indecent stage behaviour” had affected them financially.

In addition to his speech on Malaysia’s LGBTQ+ rights record, Healy was seen drinking on stage and smashing a drone owned by the festival.

“FSA would like to reiterate their strong disapproval of the band’s behaviour during their performance,” the organisers said.

“In particular, lead singer Matthew Timothy Healy’s use of abusive language, equipment damage and indecent stage behaviour not only flagrantly breached local guidelines and Malaysian laws but also tarnished the reputation of the 10-year-old festival.”

They went on to claim that Healy’s actions “intentionally contravened the agreement they had with FSA” and led to the cancellation of the remainder of the festival, causing “significant financial losses [and] “negatively impact[ed] local artists and businesses that depended on the festival’s success – affecting the livelihoods of many Malaysians”.

The organisers demanded The 1975 “acknowledge their liability and compensate FSA for damages incurred”, threatening the band with legal proceedings if they fail to do so.

After being banned from Kuala Lumpur, The 1975 cancelled shows in Indonesia and Taiwan, while many members of Malaysia’s queer community condemned Healy’s actions.

Some have warned that his behaviour could result in Malaysian police and government authorities engaging in a renewed crackdown on LGBTQ+ people in the country.


#stitch with @cabi ps: that’s not to say that Malaysian’s are all homophobic, as there is a queer community and I believe a lot of Gen-Z/Millenial Malaysia’s are more woke and accepting of LGBTQ+ folks, but Malaysian are all aware of what our government systems are like and how acts like thse can actually hurt marginalized communities more than help them. #the1975 #goodvibesfestival #gvf2023

♬ original sound – a kid named rufus

Rufus Sivaroshan, a queer Malaysian singer based in the US, went viral after calling out Healy’s “white saviour complex”, on TikTok.

“Matty Healy, you’re a f**king idiot, do you have any idea of the repercussions?” Sivaroshan said.

“I hate this bulls**t white saviour complex of people coming into regions like south-east Asia with no prior research whatsoever to what the culture is like, to what the repercussions of certain things are, come in and do this s**t and ruin it for not them but for the people [who] actually live there.”