Malaysia Cancels Music Festival After Band Members Kiss on Stage

todayJuly 22, 2023 2

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(Bloomberg) — Malaysia called off a music festival in Kuala Lumpur after male members of a British indie band kissed on stage.

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil announced the cancellation in a tweet on Saturday, after Matty Healy and Ross MacDonald — the lead singer and bassist of the band The 1975 — kissed in a performance on Friday.

The band was the headliner for the first of the three-day Good Vibes Festival in the nation’s capital. Same-sex intercourse and marriage are outlawed in the majority-Muslim country.

Healy was also seen performing while holding a bottle of alcohol and criticizing the country’s LGBTQ laws, Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama reported.

The minister criticized the “very rude actions and statements” by the band, and said the position of the government is clear on such acts. “There is no compromise with any party that challenges, disparages and violates Malaysian laws,” he wrote.

While the government is committed to supporting the growth of the creative industry and freedom of speech, this should not impinge on local cultures and values, the minister said.

Resurgent support for Malaysia’s conservative opposition parties has added to pressure on the government led by premier Anwar Ibrahim. Elections scheduled for almost half of Malaysia’s 13 states next month will test public support for Anwar’s coalition, which is competing against the Islamist party, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia. PAS, as it’s known, emerged as the single party with the most seats in parliamentary elections last November.

Read more: Malaysia to Hold 6 State Polls Next Month in Test for Anwar

In a separate statement, the communications ministry said it has filed a police report against the event organizers and band for negligence and failure to comply with rules, and for the “insults” that “violated the morals of Malaysians.” It also said The 1975 has been blacklisted from performing in the country.

Festival organizer Future Sound Asia said The 1975’s management team had offered assurances that the band would adhere to local performance guidelines. In an emailed statement, the organizer described Healy’s behavior as “unprofessional” and “disturbing,” and said it would update ticket holders, vendors, sponsors and partners about refunds as soon as possible. 

Malaysia drew criticism from LGBTQ activists and Swatch Group AG in May after home affairs ministry officials confiscated pride-themed rainbow watches from the Swiss company’s branches in the country. A suit the company filed against the government challenging the move is due to be heard in court next month.

–With assistance from Anisah Shukry and Ravil Shirodkar.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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