UK band The 1975 nix Indonesia gig after Malaysia LGBTQ uproar

23 Jul 2023 12:01pm
British indie-rock band The 1975 - Facebook
British indie-rock band The 1975 - Facebook

JAKARTA, Indonesia - British indie-rock band The 1975 cancelled a concert in Indonesia Sunday, 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 neighbouring 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, because of Matt 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.

"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 Sunday 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 organisers are yet to comment on the cancellation.

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

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Healy had told Malaysian fans on stage that the band had thought of pulling out of the festival on Friday, 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 offence.

But there have been attempts to criminalise 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

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