“10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy’s Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia”

"10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy's Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia"

In a recent appearance at a festival in Kuala Lumpur, Matty Healy, the frontman of the popular band The 1975, expressed his disapproval of Malaysia’s homophobic laws and sparked controversy by kissing a male bandmate on stage. This bold move has angered conservatives in the country and left members of the LGBTQ+ community feeling uneasy. The incident has raised concerns about potential hostilities and backlash that the gay community might face as a result.

"10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy's Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia"
“10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy’s Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia”

The Onstage Condemnation

During his performance at the Good Vibes festival, Matty Healy’s made headlines when he delivered a profanity-laden speech denouncing Malaysia’s homophobic laws. While holding what appeared to be a wine bottle, he passionately spoke out against the injustice faced by the LGBTQ+ community. The comment was met with mixed reactions from the audience, with some cheering in support.

Matty Healy’s made headlines during a recent performance at the Good Vibes music festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In an act of protest against Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws, Healy kissed his male bandmate, bassist Ross MacDonald, onstage. The moment was captured on video and quickly went viral on social media, sparking discussions and drawing attention to the country’s laws and policies surrounding LGBTQ+ rights.

Before the kiss, Healy delivered a speech expressing his concerns about the Malaysian Government’s policy on LGBTQ+ rights. He acknowledged that he had not thoroughly researched the country’s laws before booking the show and voiced his frustration about the government’s perceived interference in personal matters. Healy stated, “I don’t see the point … of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with (sic.)”

A Symbolic Kiss (Matty Healy’s)

As a powerful statement against discrimination,Matty Healy’s shared a significant moment with his bass player, Ross MacDonald, by kissing him onstage while performing the song “I Like America & America Likes Me.” The act was seen as a gesture of solidarity and defiance against the discriminatory laws.

"10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy's Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia"
“10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy’s Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia”

Fallout and Consequences Matty Healy’s

The aftermath of Matty Healy’s speech and actions was swift. The band was promptly banned from the country, and the festival organizers canceled the entire weekend event. Additionally, the Malaysian government announced plans to tighten entry requirements for foreign artists, affecting the music and entertainment industry in the country.

Matty Healy’s has not spoken publicly about the controversy, but responded to the news that the rest of the festival had been cancelled by writing on Instagram: “Ok well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”

The group were previously involved in a similar stunt in 2019, during a performance in Dubai, where consensual same-sex sexual activity is also against the law.

During a performance of the song Loving Someone, Matty left the stage and went into the crowd, where he kissed a male fan.

Reactions from the LGBTQ+ Community

While some members of the LGBTQ+ community appreciated Healy’s show of support, others expressed concern about the potential negative consequences. Activists working on the ground to promote queer activism felt that the grand scale of the event might have caused more harm than good. They emphasized the importance of considering the local context and having dialogues with community members before taking such actions.

LGBTQ+ Rights and Activism in Malaysia

Malaysia’s federal penal code, established during British colonial rule, harshly penalizes oral and anal sex with up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, each state and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya have sharia codes that generally criminalize gay sex and gender nonconformity. Over the years, activists have observed an increase in intolerance, exemplified by incidents like the raid on an LGBTQ+ Halloween party in Kuala Lumpur, where 20 people were arrested.

Foreign Performers and Their Impact

While foreign performers advocating for LGBTQ+ rights can have a positive impact, it is essential for them to be mindful of their approach. Understanding the local cultural and legal context is crucial, as actions that might be acceptable in Western countries may not be received well in Malaysia. Engaging with the local LGBTQ+ community before making public statements can help avoid unintended consequences.

Concerns Ahead of State Elections

The timing of Matty Healy’s comments is of particular concern, as they come just weeks before state elections. During campaigning periods, hate speech tends to rise, creating a potentially more hostile environment for the LGBTQ+ community. Activists fear that the incident might further escalate tensions and potentially harm the progress made in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights Matty Healy’s .

Human Rights and Protection for the LGBTQ+ Community

Matty Healy’s : The National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has emphasized the importance of respecting freedom of expression while adhering to local laws and cultural considerations. However, the statement also highlights the vulnerability and lack of protection experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals in the country. This situation further contributes to the nervousness felt by the community in light of such incidents.

"10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy's Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia"
“10 Controversial Moments: Matty Healy’s Stand Against Homophobia in Malaysia”

The Need for Thoughtful Advocacy

Carmen Rose, a drag performer in Kuala Lumpur, revealed the challenges faced by foreign artists advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. She emphasized the need for a nuanced approach that respects the cultural and social complexities of the country. Advocacy should be done in collaboration with local activists and LGBTQ+ community members to ensure the effectiveness and relevance of the message.


Matty Healy’s bold stand against homophobic laws in Malaysia has garnered attention and sparked discussions on LGBTQ+ rights in the country. While some support his advocacy, concerns have been raised about potential backlash and unintended consequences. To effect positive change, foreign performers and activists must approach advocacy with sensitivity and respect for the local context, working hand in hand with the LGBTQ+ community to create meaningful impact.

The Good Vibes Festival said the decision was an “immediate cancellation directive” from the ministry.

“The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws,” organisers said.

“We sincerely apologise to all of our ticket-holders, vendors, sponsors and partners.”

A source, who is close to the band, said: “Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and the community.”

In 2019, Healy won ally of the year at the 2019 Diva Awards for supporting LGBT+ rights.

He has previously kissed a male crowd safety worker mid-performance in Denmark, along with a male fan during a show in Dubai.

In 2019, Healy wrote on Twitter: “Thank you Dubai you were so amazing. I don’t think we’ll be allowed back due to my ‘behaviour’ but know that I love you and I wouldn’t have done anything differently given the chance again.”


  1. Is homosexuality illegal in Malaysia? Yes, Malaysia’s federal penal code and sharia laws in certain states criminalize homosexuality.
  2. What was the reaction of the audience to Matty Healy’s speech? The reaction was mixed, with some cheering in support of his message.
  3. How did the Malaysian government respond to the incident? The band was banned from the country, and the festival where Healy performed was canceled.
  4. What concerns do LGBTQ+ activists have about foreign advocacy? Activists stress the need for understanding the local context and engaging with the community before making public statements.
  5. What are the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia? The community faces intolerance, discrimination, and a lack of legal protection, making them vulnerable to harm.

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