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UK band The 1975 nix Indonesia gig after Malaysia LGBTQ+ uproar

By Agence France-Presse Published Jul 24, 2023 9:40 am

British indie-rock band The 1975 cancelled a concert in Indonesia Sunday, July 23 after Malaysia axed a festival over a same-sex kiss and tirade against the country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws by their frontman. 

Indonesia's LGBTQ+ laws are less strict than those in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, where homosexuality is a crime.

But several events have been cancelled in recent years because of opposition in the Muslim-majority country. 

Malaysian authorities cancelled the Good Vibes music festival in the capital Kuala Lumpur after cutting short the band's set on Friday, July 21 because of Matty Healy's profanity-laden speech and kiss with the band's bassist Ross MacDonald. 

The band subsequently announced it would cancel its performance at the We The Fest event in Indonesian capital Jakarta, as well as a show in Taiwan—home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community—on Tuesday, July 25. 

"The 1975 regret to announce that their forthcoming shows in Jakarta and Taipei will no longer be going ahead as planned," the band said in a statement on the We The Fest Instagram page.

"The band never take 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."

The Indonesian government and festival organizers are yet to comment on the cancellation.

The band's next scheduled concert is Lollapalooza festival in the United States in early August. 

Healy had told Malaysian fans on stage that the band had thought of pulling out of the festival on Friday, July 21, saying: "I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with." 

Despite several local by-laws discriminating against LGBTQ+ individuals in Indonesia, its national laws have never made homosexuality a criminal offense.

But there have been attempts to criminalize homosexuality by conservative politicians and groups, while gay couples often face discrimination in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. 

Malaysian Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil condemned the singer on Saturday after ordering the festival's cancellation.

"Never touch the sensitivities of the community, especially those that are against the manners and values of the local culture," he said in a tweet.

The on-stage protest was not a first for Healy, who kissed a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has tough anti-LGBTQ+ laws. (AFP)