The 1975 Faces Legal Action from Malaysian Festival After Gay Kiss

The British pop rock band The 1975 is facing a lawsuit from the organizer of Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival, who is demanding over $2 million in damages for the band’s alleged breach of contract and violation of local laws. The band’s frontman Matty Healy kissed his male bandmate Ross MacDonald on stage during their performance on July 21, 2023, after criticizing the Malaysian government’s stance against homosexuality in a profanity-laden speech. The incident led to the cancellation of the remaining two days of the festival by the authorities, affecting many local artists and businesses.

The 1975’s Controversial Performance

The 1975 was one of the headliners of the Good Vibes Festival, a three-day annual event that features local and international acts. The festival was held at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur from July 21 to 23, 2023. According to the organizer, Future Sound Asia (FSA), the band had agreed to adhere to all local guidelines and regulations during their set in Malaysia.

The 1975 Faces Legal Action from Malaysian Festival After Gay Kiss
The 1975 Faces Legal Action from Malaysian Festival After Gay Kiss

However, during their performance on July 21, Healy made a speech in which he said he had “made a mistake” in booking a show in the country and that he did not see the point of inviting the band to a country and then telling them who they can have sex with. He also used abusive language and called the government “a bunch of fucking r——”. He then kissed MacDonald on stage, which is considered an indecent act under Malaysian law. Being LGBTQ in the country is illegal, with laws strictly enforced and queer people frequently subject to hate crimes.

The band’s actions sparked outrage among some of the audience members and online users, who accused them of disrespecting the country’s culture and religion. Some also expressed concern for their safety and the festival’s continuation.

The Cancellation of the Festival

The next day, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil instructed FSA to cancel the remaining two days of the festival, citing security reasons and public order. He said that the band’s behavior was unacceptable and that they had violated the terms and conditions of their contract with FSA. He also said that the ministry would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

The cancellation of the festival affected many other artists and businesses who were scheduled to perform or operate at the event. Some of the acts that were affected included local artists such as Yuna, Zee Avi, Noh Salleh, and global acts such as The Strokes, Disclosure, Haim, and Troye Sivan. Many of them expressed their disappointment and frustration on social media, as well as their support for the LGBTQ community.

FSA also issued a statement on July 22, apologizing to all the festival-goers, artists, partners, and vendors for the cancellation. They said that they were deeply saddened by the situation and that they had tried their best to negotiate with the authorities to allow the festival to continue. They also said that they did not condone or support any form of discrimination or violence against any group of people.

The Legal Demands from FSA

On August 7, FSA sent a letter to The 1975’s representative, demanding that they admit their liability for causing the cancellation of the festival and pay damages of RM12.3 million (US$2.7 million) within seven days. They said that they had suffered significant financial losses due to the band’s intentional breach of contract and indecent stage behavior. They also said that they had tarnished the reputation of the festival and negatively impacted local artists and businesses who relied on the festival for creative opportunities and their livelihoods.

FSA’s lawyer David Mathew said that if The 1975 failed to comply with their demands, they would pursue legal proceedings in the Courts of England. He said that FSA had entered into a binding contract with The 1975 to perform and that they had breached their contractual obligation by ignoring their pre-show written assurance to follow all local guidelines and regulations.

A representative for The 1975 declined Variety ‘s request for comment on the legal demands.

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