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The 1975 Cancels Indonesia and Taiwan Shows After Malaysia LGBT Row

British pop-rock band The 1975 has cancelled upcoming concerts in Indonesia and Taiwan after its gig in Malaysia was controversially cut short.

Lead singer Matty Healy attacked Malaysia’s anti-LGBT laws on Friday and kissed bass player Ross MacDonald on stage – the band was swiftly banned from playing in the country.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in prison. 

It is shunned – but not illegal – in most of Muslim-majority Indonesia.

But it is banned in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province.

The band said it had cancelled its Indonesia and Taiwan gigs “due to current circumstances”, without elaborating.

Taiwan is largely seen as welcoming to the LGBT community. It was the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.

In a statement shared by We The Fest, a music festival in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta where The 1975 were scheduled to perform on Sunday, the band said current circumstances made it “impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows”.

Some of Malaysia’s LGBT community were frustrated by events on Friday and worried the spotlight on their community could lead to more stigma and discrimination.

On Friday, on stage in Kuala Lumpur, lead singer Healy said: “I don’t see the [expletive] point, right, I do not see the point of inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.

“Unfortunately you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m [expletive] furious,” the frontman continued. 

“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.” 

Healy then kissed his bandmate MacDonald as the band played the song I Like America & America Likes Me.

Shortly after the kiss Healy and the band walked off stage, roughly 30 minutes into the set. The singer told the audience: “Alright, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”

On Saturday, the festival’s organisers announced that the remaining line-up for the festival had been cancelled.

The decision was made after an “immediate cancellation directive” from Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Digital as part of its “unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws”, a statement said.

Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose said Healy’s attack on anti-LGBT laws was “performative” and “unruly”. 

Speaking to the BBC World Service’s Newshour, Rose said: “It is giving white saviour complex and he [Matty Healy] wasn’t doing it for our community.”

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

As state elections in Malaysia loom ahead, Rose said politicians would use the event as a “scapegoat”.

“It gives them [conservative politicians] more ammo to further their homophobic agenda to gain votes,” she added.

Asked about life in Malaysia as part of the LGBT community, Rose said “the government is not on our side” and she cannot pursue her profession as a drag artist freely in the country – travelling to Singapore for performances instead. 

Rose said the LGBT community’s mental health had been badly affected by constant scrutiny and criticism from the government and society.

“Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community,” a source close to The 1975 said Friday night.

Healy has previously used appearances on stage to highlight anti-LGBT laws. 

Back in 2019, he invited a male fan on stage during a gig in Dubai. The incident attracted criticism in the country, where homosexuality is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. 

Posting on Twitter after the show, Healy said: “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.”