The Malaysian government has demanded that organizers of concerts featuring foreign bands have a ‘kill switch’ ready to turn the lights off. It follows an incident in July, when two male members of the British indie band The 1975 kissed on stage in a gesture of protest.
The requirement was revealed on Monday by Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Teo Nie Ching, after she was asked about the kiss incident and the government’s reaction to it during a parliamentary session.
In addition, Malaysian police are now involved in checking the backgrounds of foreign bands invited into the country, the minister said, as quoted by the local newspaper The Star. But blacklisting performers would only be decided on by the Foreign Ministry, Teo noted.
Matty Healy, the frontman of The 1975, lashed out at Malaysia’s attitude towards the LGBTQ community, after performing at the Good Vibes Festival in the southern Sepang District of the Muslim-majority country. He claimed he made a mistake when he agreed to participate in the event.
“I don’t see the f*cking point… of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with. And I’m sorry if that offends you and you are religious, and it’s part of your f*cking government,” he declared from the stage.
The musician identifies as straight, but is a vocal advocate of LGBT rights.
Waving a bottle of what appeared to be an alcoholic drink in his hand, Healy proclaimed himself “f*cking furious” with the policies of the Malaysian government and said he believed that many members of the audience were “gay and progressive.” He then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald.
The government suspended the rest of the three-day event, which was subsequently canceled by organizer Future Sound Asia (FSA). The company accused The 1975 of disrespect and sued it for damages. Their contract reportedly included an obligation not to violate local laws and customs.
The band itself was banned from performing in Malaysia and canceled shows in Muslim-majority Indonesia and in Taiwan after the uproar.
Healy made a similar pro-LGBTQ display during a concert in the United Arab Emirates in 2019, when he kissed a male fan attending the show.
Malaysia has laws against sodomy, which it inherited from the British Empire, its former colonial overlord. A separate ban is in place for Muslim states under the country’s parallel Sharia legal system. The punishments for violators include canning, fines, and jail time. Around 60% of the Malaysian population is Muslim.