Malaysia Halts Music Festival After Kiss Between Bandmates Onstage
"The episode comes as rights groups have warned of growing intolerance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the country, where homosexuality is a crime.
Malaysia’s government halted a music festival in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Saturday, a day after the frontman of the British pop rock band The 1975 kissed a male bandmate onstage and criticized the country’s anti-L.G.B.T. laws.
“There will be no compromise against any party that challenges, disparages and violates Malaysian laws,” Fahmi Fadzil, the country’s communications minister, said on Twitter after meeting the organizers of the Good Vibes Festival, a three-day event set to run until Sunday.
The 1975 have also been banned from performing in Malaysia, said a government committee that oversees filming and performances by foreigners.
Homosexuality is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Rights groups have warned of growing intolerance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In videos posted on social media late on Friday, Matty Healy, the band’s frontman, was seen kissing the bassist, Ross MacDonald, after criticizing Malaysia’s stance against homosexuality in a profanity-laden speech to the festival audience.
“I made a mistake,” he said. “When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it.” He added that he did not understand the purpose “of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”
Mr. Healy later cut short the set, telling the crowd: “All right, we’ve got to go. We just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, I’ll see you later.”
The band could not immediately be reached for comment. Mr. Healy had faced criticism for kissing a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has laws against homosexual acts, according to news media reports.
The festival’s organizer, Future Sound Asia, apologized for the show’s cancellation after Mr. Healy’s “controversial conduct and remarks.” It said The 1975’s management had promised that the band would obey performance guidelines.
“Regrettably, Healy did not honor these assurances,” it said in a statement.
Mr. Fahmi, the communications minister, said Malaysia was committed to supporting the development of creative industries and freedom of expression.
“However, never touch on the sensitivities of the community, especially those that are against the traditions and values of the local culture,” he said.
The government in March introduced stricter guidelines, including on dress code and conduct, for foreign acts coming to Malaysia, citing the need to protect sensitivities, the news media reported.
Friday’s episode ignited an uproar on Malaysian social media, including among some members of the L.G.B.T. community, who accused Mr. Healy of “performative activism” and said his action was likely to expose the community to more stigma and discrimination.
The 1975 are on Sunday scheduled to play at a festival in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, where a recent L.G.B.T. event was canceled amid security threats."