Matty Healy ‘briefly imprisoned’ after controversial Malaysia kiss

Matt Healy at Lollapalooza Festival

Matty Healy has suggested that he was “briefly imprisoned” by the Malaysian government after his controversial on-stage kiss in the country where homosexuality is criminalised.

The frontman of The 1975 landed himself in hot water – and not for the first time – earlier this summer when his kiss with bassist Ross MacDonald prompted a full-scale shut-down of Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur.

In Malaysia, LGBTQ+ are regularly subjected to discrimination and receive no protection against hate crimes. Those found guilty of engaging in gay sex face up to 20 years in prison.

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.

The kiss received serious backlash – not just from festival organisers, but Malaysia’s LGBTQ+ community, who complained that Healy’s actions could spark a renewed crackdown on queer people.

Now, Healy has spoken out about the controversy, getting everything off his chest in a 10-minute pre-written speech at The 1975’s gig in Fort Worth, Texas this week.

You may like to watch

In his speech, the singer claimed that he and at least one other member of the band were “briefly imprisoned” by authorities after the kiss.

Matty Healy performs on stage in a white vest. He is playing a red electric guitar.
Matty has addressed the controversial kiss in a 10-minute speech. (Getty/Josh Brasted)

“The 1975 did not waltz into Malaysia unannounced,” Healy said in his speech, per Pitchfork.

“They were invited to headline a festival by a government who had full knowledge of the band with its well-publicised political views and its routine stage show.”

Healy added that kissing bassist MacDonald had not been a stunt meant to “provoke the government”, but rather an “ongoing part of the 1975 stage show, which has been performed many times prior.

“Similarly we chose to not change our set that night to play pro-freedom of speech, pro-gay songs,” he added.

The lead singer said that it was the “liberal outrage” toward the band for “remaining consistent with [their] pro-LGBTQ+ stage show” that puzzled him most.

Matty Healy of The 1975
Matty Healy faced heavy backlash for the kiss. (Getty Images)

He noted: “I suspect, I’ve got an inkling, that those who took to Twitter to voice their outrage over the 1975’s unwillingness to cater to Malaysian customs would find it abhorrent if the 1975 were to acquiesce to, let’s say, Mississippi’s perspective on abortion or trans rights.

“Overall, the idea that it’s incumbent upon artists to cater to the local cultural sensitivities of wherever they’ve been invited to perform sets a very dangerous precedent.”

This speech from Healy comes shortly after he issued an apology to fans for the series of controversies he has found himself swept up in in the last few months.

Speaking at a Hollywood Bowl gig in California earlier this month, Healy apologised for “hurting some people” and pledged to fans that he would do better.