By: Eric Jia
The Good Vibes Festival in Malaysia was cut short after the lead singer of British band The 1975, Matty Healy, slammed the country’s anti-gay laws and kissed a male bandmate during their performance. The Malaysian government canceled the remaining two days of the festival and the organizers now face a police investigation. Many LGBT Malaysians took to social media in the wake of the performance to criticize Healy, saying he had done more harm than good. However, some members of Malaysia’s LGBTQ community have criticized Healy’s actions as “performative” and “self-serving,” arguing that his stunt may have done more harm than good to a vulnerable group already under threat in Malaysia’s repressive, conservative society.
Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and human rights groups have warned of growing intolerance against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The agency in charge of approving performances by foreign artists said it was disappointed with the band’s conduct, calling it “an insult and disrespecting the laws of the country.” It also said the group will be unable to perform in Malaysia going forward.
The cancellation of the festival has also sparked outrage among local musicians and vendors who were affected by the decision. While international artists were paid in full prior to the event, payment terms differed for other artists.
Healy’s actions have also sparked significant responses from LGBT activists and allies in Malaysia. Critics have labeled his act as “performative activism”, expressing concerns that it could exacerbate the difficulties faced by the LGBT community in Malaysia.