Singer Matty Healy and his band The 1975 have been ordered to pay over €2 million in damages to the Malaysian festival Good Vibes after he shared a kiss with bandmate Ross MacDonald on stage in Kuala Lumpur earlier in July.
The performer staged the same-sex kiss to protest the state’s stance on homosexuality, which is illegal in Malaysia under colonial-era civil laws and punishable with up to 20 years in prison. During their appearance at the Good Vibes Festival in the Malaysian capital, Healy addressed the crowd, saying: “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it.”
“I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” he said. Healy then shared a kiss on stage with bandmate Ross MacDonald, after which the band’s set was cut short. The group was banned from Malaysia, while the country’s Ministry of Communication and Digital proceeded to cancel the rest of the festival.
Several Malaysian LGBTQ+ activists criticised Matty Healy for the kiss and the speech, accusing him of having a “white-saviour complex” and of managing to shut down one of the few safe spaces for queer people in the country. Recently, the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia has been facing growing discrimination and intolerance, with eight queer activists being arrested earlier in July for staging a protest against the government’s crackdown on their rights.
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Now, as reported by Rolling Stones, Healy and his band seem to be facing more consequences for their onstage kiss at the Malaysian festival. Future Sound Asia, the organisers of the festival, requested that the band pay 12.3 million ringgit (approximately €2 million) in damages. A statement published by the firm representing Future Sound Asia explained that “the claim against The 1975 is essentially for breach of contract”.
“They entered into a binding contract with Future Sound Asia to perform, and the position of Future Sound Asia, among others, is that this contractual obligation was breached,” organisers continued.
“Further, Mr Healy’s representative categorically provided a pre-show written assurance that Mr Healy and The 1975’s live performance ‘shall adhere to all local guidelines and regulations during their set in Malaysia’. Unfortunately, the assurance was ignored,” the statement read.
The request for damages also provided a deadline, meaning that the group had until today, August 14, to pay the fee or further legal action will be taken. Moreover, several local music artists and festival vendors are planning to take legal action against the band for the losses they faced due to the festival’s cancellation.
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