The 1975 Cancel Shows In Indonesia And Taiwan Following Controversy Around Malaysia Performance

Frontman Matty Healy and bass player Ross MacDonald kissed during a performance in Malaysia on Friday protesting the country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
Matty Healy on stage at TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow earlier this month
Matty Healy on stage at TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow earlier this month
Roberto Ricciuti via Getty Images

The 1975 cancelled shows in Indonesia and Taiwan following controversy around their recent performance in Malaysia.

On Friday, the chart-topping band appeared on stage at the Good Vibes festival in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, during which frontman Matty Healy kissed bandmate Ross MacDonald in a stunt protesting the country’s laws against homosexuality.

I don’t see the fucking point of inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” he told the crowd, per The Guardian. “Unfortunately you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m fucking furious.

“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.”

After his speech, he and Ross kissed, with the show coming to an abrupt end just 30 minutes into the set.

“We just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later,” Matty said before leaving the stage.

A day later, the remainder of the Good Vibes Festival was cancelled.

The 1975 on stage in Paris
The 1975 on stage in Paris
Kristy Sparow via Getty Images

The band had been due to perform at the We The Fest music festival in Indonesia on Sunday, but announced shortly before that they would not be going ahead with the performance, and had also axed a scheduled show in Taiwan.

“The band never takes the decision to cancel a show lightly and had been eagerly looking forward to playing for fans in Jakarta and Taipei but unfortunately, due to current circumstances, it is impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows,” they said.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is considered one of the most progressive and welcoming of LGBTQ+ people in Asia, with same-sex marriage having been legal in the country since 2019.

Reaction to Matty’s on-stage speech and actions has been mixed, with Malaysian drag performer Carmen Rose opining to BBC World Service: “It is giving white saviour complex and he wasn’t doing it for our community.

“If he was doing it for our community, he would know what consequences we would have to go through.”

Malaysian singer-songwriter Talitha Than was also critical of the musician, accusing him of having a “white saviour complex” after the remainder of the festival was cancelled.

Matty has not spoken publicly about the controversy, but responded to the news that the rest of the festival had been cancelled by writing on Instagram: “Ok well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”

The group were previously involved in a similar stunt in 2019, during a performance in Dubai, where consensual same-sex sexual activity is also against the law.

During a performance of the song Loving Someone, Matty left the stage and went into the crowd, where he kissed a male fan.

“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,” he tweeted afterwards.

A year later, after it was pointed out he could have potentially put the fan in question at risk, Matty conceded he’d been “pretty irresponsible”, but added: “Of course I’m not going to put people in danger, but I genuinely want to be an ally for people who don’t have a voice if I happen to have this big voice in pop culture. Those are the fundamental things I stand for.”

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