1975 canceled shows in Indonesia and Taiwan after Matty Healy’s antics in Malaysia sparked a backlash

The 1975 Matty Healy

1975 canceled their upcoming shows in Indonesia and Taiwan after a headline gig in Malaysia saw frontman Matty Healy attack the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance and kiss the band’s bassist on stage.

Healy’s actions were criticized by local LGBTQ+ activists, who described his on-stage antics as “giving rise to a white savior complex” and said the incident could put the country’s queer community at greater risk in the run-up to Malaysia’s state elections.

After Healy’s rash behavior led to the band being banned from playing in Malaysia and the next two days of the Good Vibes Festival being shut down, The 1975 have confirmed that they will no longer be appearing at We The Fest in Jakarta, Indonesia, or the Taipei Music Center in the Taiwanese capital.

On Friday (21 July), the band were headlining the first day of the Good Vibes Festival when Healy began speaking out against the southeast Asian country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws, telling the crowd it was a “mistake” to come out in Malaysia.

“I don’t see the f**king point, right,” he said. “I don’t see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.” The 34-year-old singer-songwriter then shared a kiss with bandmate Ross MacDonald and played “I Like America & America Likes Me”, before their set was cut short after just 30 minutes.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, where both sexes can be punished with fines, caning and up to 20 years in prison. There are no rights or protections for the LGBTQ+ community and the gender expression of trans people is outright criminalized.

Matty Healy of The 1975 headlines the TRNSMT Festival at Glasgow Green on 9 July 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns)

On Saturday (22 July), the festival was announced in a statement shared on social media that the next two days of the event will not go ahead. Good Vibes Festival confirmed that they were ordered to cancel by the Malaysian Ministry of Communications and Digital, due to Healy’s “conduct and remarks”.

LGBTQ+ Malaysians are calling out Matty Healy’s actions

LGBTQ+ locals have expressed concerns that Healy’s behavior at the festival could lead to more discrimination and political attacks on the queer community in Malaysia.

Thilaga Sulathireh, a founder of the LGBTQ+ group Justice for Sisters, said Healy’s actions were particularly troubling in the lead-up to state elections in the country.

“One can appreciate the meaning of Healy’s protest, but I think the timing of it may not necessarily benefit people,” Sulathireh told the Washington Post. “Political parties are currently campaigning, and we know that LGBT issues are often glossed over.”

Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose agreed, telling the BBC World Service’s Newshour that Healy’s actions would give conservative politicians “more ammo to push their homophobic agenda to get votes”.

Rose called the antics on stage “performative” and “indulging the white savior complex”, and went on to say Healy was “not doing this for our community”.

“If he’s doing this for our community,” he continued, “he’ll know what the consequences are that we have to go through.”

1975 canceled tour dates in Indonesia and Taiwan

The British indie band are set to play in Indonesia and Taiwan as part of their ongoing ‘Still … At Their Very Best’ tour

Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, and while most parts do not criminalize homosexuality – Aceh province is an exception – there are no specific laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community against hate crimes or discrimination.

In 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, and this year passed ground-breaking legislation to give same-sex couples full adoption rights.

In a statement shared on the We The Fest Instagram page, The 1975 said: “The band never decides to cancel a show lightly and is very eager to play for the fans in Jakarta and Taipei but unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, it is impossible to continue with the scheduled shows.”

Healy previously faced criticism for kissing a male fan at a show in Dubai in 2019, as sexual activity between men is illegal in the United Arab Emirates.

Local LGBTQ+ activists warned that Healy may have put the fan at risk with his actions. After the gig, Healy tweeted: “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 do anything differently given the chance again.”

Healy later said he regretted the decision and that he had been “quite irresponsible”.


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