The Malaysian government suspended a music festival in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Saturday, a day after the frontman of British pop rock band The 1975 kissed a fellow band member and criticized the country’s anti-gay laws.
“There will be no compromise against any party that defies, despises and violates Malaysian laws,” Fahmi Fadil, Malaysia’s Communications Minister, said. he said on Twitter After meeting the organizers of the Good Vibes Festival, a three-day event set to run through Sunday.
A government committee that oversees filming and performances for foreigners said 1975 was also banned from performing in Malaysia.
Homosexuality is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Rights groups have warned of rising intolerance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In videos posted on social media late Friday night, band leader Matty Healy is seen kissing bassist Ross McDonald, after criticizing Malaysia’s stance against homosexuality in an expletive-laden speech to a festival audience.
He said, “I made a mistake.” “When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking forward to it.” He added that he did not understand the purpose of “inviting 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with”.
Mr. Healy later cut off the group, telling the crowd: “Well, we have to go. We’ve just been denied entry to Kuala Lumpur, I’ll see you later.”
The band could not be reached for comment. Mr Healy faced criticism for kissing a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has laws against same-sex sexual practices, according to news media reports.
The festival’s organizer, Future Sound Asia, apologized for canceling the show following Mr Healy’s “controversial behavior and statements”. She said that 1975’s management promised the band would adhere to performance guidelines.
“Unfortunately, Hailey did not honor these assurances,” she said in a statement.
Mr. Fahmy, Minister of Communications, said Malaysia was committed to supporting the development of creative industries and freedom of expression.
“However, never touch the sensibilities of the community, especially those that go against the traditions and values of the local culture,” he said.
Media reported that in March the government introduced stricter guidelines, including dress codes and behavior, for foreign businesses coming into Malaysia, citing the need to protect sensitivities.
Friday’s episode sparked an uproar on Malaysian social media, including among some members of the LGBT community, who accused Mr Healy of “performative activism” and said his actions were likely to subject society to further stigma and discrimination.
On Sunday, 1975 is set to premiere at a festival in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, as the latest LGBT event has been canceled amid security threats.