jakub | December 7, 2023

Malaysia not banning all concerts after The 1975 gay kiss

The Malaysian government has decided against a ban on all international concerts in the country after The 1975‘s Matty Healy and Ross McDonald shared a kiss onstage during Good Vibes Festival earlier this year.

The confirmation – per the New Straits Times – comes after the Malaysian government announced that concerts must have a “kill switch” to cut off performances that break guidelines. At the time, the government was also debating on whether international performers should also be banned from performing in Malaysia.

Now, however, the ban is being ruled out, with Deputy communications and digital minister Teo Nie Ching announcing in parliament that local music fans and other international artists should not be punished for one band’s actions.

“The 1975 flouted several guidelines and we are in the midst of strengthening the guidelines to avoid reoccurrence,” she said. “Just because of one incident, how can we cancel the others? Out of 296 artistes only one happened. How is this fair?”

During their set on July 21, Matty Healy kissed bassist Ross McDonald in front of the live crowd at Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur. The remainder of the three-day festival was later cancelled by authorities and both Healy and the band were banned from performing in the country. The organisers cited “non-compliance with local performance guidelines” for the reason for the cancellation.

The controversy kicked up a notch in August when the organisers of Good Vibes Festival announced that they will be taking legal action against the band, after they used their set to criticise Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ laws.

Following the incident, the Malaysian LGBTQ+ community condemned Healy, suggesting his actions would make life for the LGBTQ+ community in the country worse.

In November, the Malaysian government announced that concert organisers in the country must have a “kill switch” to immediately end performances that flout guidelines. Deputy communications and digital minister Teo Nie Ching announced in parliament that concert organisers must have a “kill switch”.

“[This] will cut off electricity during any performance if there is any unwanted incident,” she reportedly said. “We hope that with stricter guidelines, foreign artists can adhere to the local culture.” The “kill switch” was reported to be available for use at a Coldplay show in Kuala Lumpur on November 22.

Healy has responded several times to the incident. He first seemed to poke fun at the controversy at Lollapalooza, and then admitted he thought he and McDonald were going to go to prison: “All I’ll say is that I don’t give a fuck about any white saviour complex bullshit. What I’ll say is that doing the right thing often requires quite a lot of sacrifice and very little reward. And being seen to do the right thing requires very little sacrifice, and that’s when you get all the rewards.

More recently, Healy gave a lengthy 10-minute speech at their show in Texas, saying he was “pissed off to be frank”, essentially concluding: “The idea that it’s incumbent upon artists to cater to the local sensitivities of wherever they are invited to perform sets a very dangerous precedent.”

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