Malaysian Government To Tighten Entry Requirements For Artists After Matty Healy Breaks The Law

25 July 2023 | 10:15 am | Mary Varvaris

Things have gotten much worse since Matty Healy kissed his bandmate on stage in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

The 1975 @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 1975 @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre (Credit: Rodney Magazinovic)

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The Malaysian government has vowed to tighten entry requirements for international artists after The 1975’s Matty Healy made a profanity-led speech and kissed his bandmate, Ross MacDonald, on stage during the band’s headlining slot at Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur on Friday (21 July).

Since the incident occurred, Healy claimed that The 1975 had been “banned” from Malaysia, and the rest of the three-day music festival was cancelled.

Malaysian LGBTQ+ activists in the community are concerned about where things currently stand, as a federal election looms only weeks away. They worry that Healy’s actions will lead to further hate speech before an election.

On Friday, The 1975’s headlining set was cut short seven songs into the show after Healy directly disobeyed the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. The Malaysian penal code effectively outlaws same-sex relationships and sexual activity, criminalising “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

Outraged, Healy launched a furious tirade (with an ableist slur), telling the audience, “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point, right? I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” Healy said.  

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“I am sorry if that offends you, and you’re religious, and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards, and I don’t care anymore. If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood; I’m not in the fucking mood.”

He continued, “I’ll take your money, you can ban me, but I’ve done this before, and it doesn’t feel good, and I’m fucked off.” That comment referenced a 2019 incident where he kissed a male fan in Dubai, disobeying strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws of the United Arab Emirates.

After the speech, Healy kissed MacDonald. They then performed I Couldn’t Be More In Love from 2018’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships before the singer claimed that The 1975 “just got banned from Kuala Lumpur.”

Following the incident, Future Sound Asia (FSA) announced that the remainder of Good Vibes Festival had been cancelled.

“FSA deeply regrets to announce that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival 2023 (GVF2023), planned for today and tomorrow, has been cancelled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by British artist Matty Healy from the band, The 1975,” a representative for Future Sound Asia said in a statement.

“This decision complies with the immediate cancellation directive issued at 1:20 PM, 22 July 2023, by the Ministry of Communications and Digital, which steadfastly opposes any parties challenging, ridiculing, or violating Malaysian laws.

“FSA firmly uphold the policy requiring all artists who perform at the festival to respect and adhere to Malaysian law and guidelines. These principles are expected to be maintained during performances.”

The statement labelled Healy’s actions as “unprofessional” and called out his “disturbing” “overt defiance of Malaysian laws and regulations”.

The statement continued, “Healy chose to utilise his performance as a platform to express his personal views, rather than delivering the quality show that his Malaysian fans were eagerly anticipating. This act is deeply unfair to his fans, who were looking forward to enjoying a memorable music experience.

“FSA is now left to address the repercussions of actions taken by an individual not present to be held accountable and face the implications of his actions—impacting fans, industry players, and the nation.”

Malaysian music fans, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, expressed disappointment in Healy’s behaviour. One punter wrote on social media that The 1975 “placed thousands of livelihoods at risk. It’s hard to have int concerts in Malaysia to begin with. Now it’s even harder.”

Another fan said that what happened during The 1975’s set “wasn’t their fight”, adding, “As a Malaysian queer, what matty healy and the 1975 did was WORSE for Malaysian queers. Now we are gonna have tolerate the political shitstorm thats about to happen while they are fine getting drunk in another country.”