Malaysia halts Good Vibes music festival after same-sex kiss by UK band The 1975

Malaysia halts Good Vibes music festival after same-sex kiss by UK band The 1975
Malaysia's government halted a music festival in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (Jul 22), a day after the frontman of British pop rock band The 1975 kissed a male bandmate onstage and criticised the country's anti-LGBT laws.

"There will be no compromise against any party that challenges, disparages and violates Malaysian laws," Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said in a Twitter post after meeting with the organisers of the Good Vibes Festival, a three-day event set to run until Sunday.

The 1975 has also been banned from performing in Malaysia, said a government committee that oversees filming and performances by foreigners.

Homosexuality is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Rights groups have warned of growing intolerance against the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In videos posted on social media on Friday night, Healy was seen kissing bassist Ross MacDonald after criticising the Malaysian government's stance against homosexuality in a profanity-laden speech to the festival audience.

He said the band had considered pulling out of the show but did not want to disappoint their fans in Malaysia. "I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn't looking into it," he said. "I don't see the f****** point ... of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with." Healy later cut short the set, telling the crowd: "All right, we gotta go. We just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, I'll see you later."

The band could not immediately be reached for comment. Healy was criticised for kissing a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has laws against homosexual acts, according to media reports.

In a statement, Good Vibes organisers said the band's set was stopped due to "non-compliance with local performance guidelines".

Communications Minister Fahmi said Malaysia was committed to supporting the development of creative industries and freedom of expression.

"However, never touch on the sensitivities of the community, especially those that are against the traditions and values of the local culture," he said.

The minister added that he understood the cancellation would have implications for concert-goers.

"I have also urged the organisers to identify a compensation mechanism for those who purchased tickets."

The incident comes before crucial regional elections that will pit Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's progressive coalition against a mostly conservative ethnic-Malay, Muslim alliance, which has accused Anwar's government of not doing enough to protect the rights of Muslims in the multiracial country.

Anwar has repeatedly said this month that his government would uphold principles of Islam, state media reported. He has said his administration will not recognise LGBT rights.

In May, Malaysian authorities confiscated watches made by the Swiss company Swatch from its "Pride collection", which celebrates LGBT rights. 
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