Call to ban Ed Sheeran from performing in Malaysia over his ‘LGBT ideology’

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: Ed Sheeran attends the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Ed Sheeran’s support for the LGBTQ+ community should see him banned from Malaysia during his world tour, the country’s opposition party leader has said.

As part of his two-year long Mathematics Tour, British chart-topper Sheeran is set to play the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on 24 February. 

On 1 February, the Malaysian Islamic Party, which is governed by a Central Ulama Council – known by its Malay abbreviation DUPP – called on the government to ban artists who support the LGBTQ+ community ahead of the performance by Sheeran, who flew a Pride flag on stage in Australia last year.

Gay sex is criminalised in Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while LGBTQ+ people face regular discrimination and receive no protection against hate crimes.  

DUPP chief Datuk Ahmad Yahaya said, as reported by Malay Mail: “DUPP urges the government to take a firm stand by cancelling the concert by a Western artiste when Muslims are on the verge of Ramadan.

“More saddening is that not only will the organisation of the concert pollute the sanctity of the month of Ramadan which is approaching, but the invited artiste has a background of LGBT ideology which is firmly rejected by Malaysia”. 

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Ed Sheeran is set to perform at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 24 February.
Ed Sheeran is set to perform at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 24 February. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The politician’s comment come after 1975 frontman Matt Healy’s controversial performance last year, which saw him kiss his bandmate Ross MacDonald onstage. Healy’s action led organisers behind Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival to sue the band for $2.7 million in damages.

Yahaya described Healy’s performance as “insulting” to the the country’s “stance of rejecting the ideology”. 

“Do we not learn from past mistakes? Are we becoming more and more desensitised, especially when the performance is scheduled when Muslims are preparing to usher in Ramadan?” he said. 

He added: “As such, DUPP urges the government to never allow the performance of any pro-LGBT Western artiste to respect the glory of the month of Ramadan.” 

The DUPP has pushed for tighter restrictions on foreign acts following the Healy incident. 

In 2021 Sheeran spoke on the Man Man Man podcast,about thinking he might have been gay growing up because he had a “feminine” side and he loved Britney Spears.

His performance at Malaysia’s Bukit Jalil National Stadium will be his second in the country, his first was the Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil in 2017.

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