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The Good Vibes music festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, came to an abrupt halt on Saturday following a controversial on-stage incident where two UK band members of the same sex shared a kiss.

The festival, a highly anticipated three-day event featuring major international bands, faced an unexpected cancellation after the frontman of British pop rock band ‘The 1975’ openly criticised the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance and kissed his male bandmate during their performance.

Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, considers homosexuality a crime punishable by imprisonment. In the wake of the on-stage protest, the government committee responsible for overseeing performances by foreigners promptly banned The 1975 from ever performing in the country again.

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During Friday’s performance, The 1975’s lead vocalist, Matty Healy, addressed the audience, revealing that the band had considered cancelling the show but didn’t want to disappoint their Malaysian fans. He condemned the restriction on choosing their partners, stating, “I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.” In a show of defiance, Healy shared a kiss with the band’s bassist, Ross MacDonald, before the performance was abruptly cut short, and Healy announced their banishment from Kuala Lumpur.

This isn’t the first time Matty Healy has used his platform to protest against anti-LGBTQ+ laws. In a 2019 concert held in the United Arab Emirates, which also enforces stringent anti-LGBTQ+ regulations, Healy kissed a male fan, making a similar statement against discrimination.

The Good Vibes music festival organisers stated that The 1975 was removed from the stage due to “non-compliance with local performance guidelines.” Following a meeting with Malaysia’s Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil, the decision to cancel the three-day event was confirmed. Fadzil emphasised that there would be no tolerance for any act that challenges or violates Malaysian laws and cultural values, urging against touching the community’s sensitivities.

Malaysia’s approach to the LGBTQ+ community has faced scrutiny and criticism, with regular reports of discrimination by Malaysian authorities. In May, the country seized over a hundred watches from the Swiss company Swatch as part of their “Pride collection,” which celebrates LGBTQ+ rights.

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