Matty Healys same sex kiss stokes fears of backlash among Malaysian.jpgw1440

Matty Healy’s same-sex kiss stokes fears of backlash among Malaysian LGBTQ groups

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A same-sex kiss between members of British pop band The 1975 during a music festival in Malaysia drew the ire of social conservatives – and some members of the Southeast Asian country’s LGBTQ community and their allies.

Lead singer Matty Healy, who is no stranger to controversy, gave the band’s bassist a long kiss after he criticized Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws at Good Vibes Festival on Friday, prompting the government to do so cancel the event after the first of three scheduled days.

Since then, the band has canceled upcoming performances in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country Taiwan, whose government was the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Healy’s kiss drew mixed reactions from local activists. Critical posts were shared thousands of times on social media over the weekend. Some called It ignored the context of the LGBTQ community in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where same-sex acts are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and corporal punishment. The kiss also came weeks before the hard-fought state elections and as conservative political forces had been gaining strength of late.

Thilaga Sulathireh, founder of the LGBTQ group Justice for Sisters, which uses the pronouns they/them, said Healy’s actions could spark backlash against the local LGBTQ community ahead of the election.

“You can understand the importance of Healy’s protest, but I think the timing isn’t necessarily in people’s favour,” they said. “Political parties are currently campaigning and we know that LGBT issues are often scapegoated.”

James Chin, a Malaysia expert at the University of Tasmania, suggested that Healy may have misunderstood the context in which his kiss would be seen.

“Among Southeast Asia’s Muslim communities, they see LGBT rights as part of this Western agenda to impose cultural values ​​on other countries, especially Muslim countries,” he said.

“One of the problems with trying to promote things like this around the world is that without the local context you tend to get it wrong,” he added.

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said Syed Saddiq, a former sports minister popular with young liberals on twitter that he did not support Healy’s actions. “He showed no respect to the fans, the organizers and especially the Malaysian compatriots,” he said.

A representative from 1975 did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

At the festival, Healy said he made a mistake in coming to Malaysia to perform because of the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

“I see no point in inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” he said, according to video footage on stage, amid cheers and shouts.

“I’m sorry if this offends you and you are religious,” he continued, before describing the Malaysian government with profanity. He also told the audience that these are “young people” and I’m sure many of you are gay, progressive and cool.

The order to cancel the music festival was issued by Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil. His boss, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was serving two jail terms on sodomy charges he claimed were fabricated, has been accused by right-wing political opponents of trying to westernize Malaysia more.

The political backdrop meant Anwar – who heads a lumbering liberal-nationalist coalition government – would shut down the festival, Chin said. His government is facing strong opposition from rivals like the ultra-conservative Malaysian Islamic Party, which did surprisingly well in last year’s national elections.

“If the minister hadn’t canceled the entire festival, the opposition would have… used this as a big political issue,” he said.

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Healy made headlines earlier this year when it was reported that he was apparently dating pop star Taylor Swift. Friday’s kiss was something of a repeat: In 2019, he kissed a male viewer while the 1975 were performing in Dubai, where homosexuality is illegal.

Thilaga, the activist, said he hoped 1975 would support the festival’s organizers, who are now under police investigation over the kiss.

“That would show that it’s not just about this white gang that came in and had this white savior complex and just left with the people who had to deal with all these consequences,” they said.

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