Matty Healy, the leader of The 1975, has been heavily criticized by Malaysia’s LGBTQ+ community for protesting against the country’s stance on gay rights and for kissing the band’s bassist, Ross MacDonald, on stage.
The group was performing at Kuala Lumpur’s Good Vibes festival on Friday, July 21, when Healy denounced the Malaysian government’s hard line on LGBTQ+ rights. Malaysian law criminalises same-sex sexual activity, and its penal code criminalises “unnatural carnal intercourse” and acts of “gross indecency”.
“I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I didn’t look at that. I don’t see the fucking point, okay, I don’t see the point of inviting 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” said Healy. Their performance was cut short after just two songs.
After Healy’s move, authorities canceled the rest of the Good Vibes Festival and banned the band from performing in Malaysia, according to the country’s official agency tasked with approving filming and performance requests from foreign artists.
Now, many LGBTQ+ Malaysians have stepped up. A Twitter thread written by Joe Lee, particularly critical of Healy, went viral. Lee suggested that Healy’s actions would make life worse for the country’s LGBTQ+ community.
“If anything, what Matt Healy and The 1975 have done is discount and undo YEARS of work with local activists pushing for change and understanding AND put our vulnerable minority communities at risk,” Lee wrote.
He also agreed with the cancellation of the Good Vibes Festival: “Now, with more friendly artists performing, tell me, do you think it would be safe to run the show for two more days?”, he insisted.
“You know some parties would have shown it and because of the tension, any incident would be catastrophic and have VERY REAL consequences.
And he added: “Every country has its laws. Foreigners can’t come and shit on us and tell us how we have to do things, especially when they only make them worse.”
“The real victims of this situation are the Malaysian LGBTQ+ community, who will have to deal with the consequences. 2. The Malaysian live concert industry, struggling to recover from the pandemic.”
Many of Lee’s sentiments were echoed. Another Twitter user said: “This alone is undoing any progress Malaysia may have made in the last century. This is pure performance activism and the 1975’s have no idea what the worst could happen to us.”
Another Malaysian queer added: “Matty and his colleagues are rich white men and they didn’t lose anything by doing what they did. At most? They lose Malaysian listeners and get a little less now. They don’t have any significant consequences for their words and maneuvers.
“Malaysian queers have worked hard to try to campaign for our rights, many of them completely volunteered and fully funded by other local queers. We lost a lot of blood, sweat and tears to ensure that our peers have a safe space, especially in such a hostile environment.”
“As a Malay queer, what Matty Healy did in 1975 was MORE for Malaysian queers. Now we are going to put up with the political shitstorm that is about to happen while they are getting well drunk in another country. This was not their fight,” said another.
After the Malaysia incident, the 1975 concerts in Indonesia and Taiwan were cancelled.