Malaysian authorities have mandated concert organisers to implement power cut-off measures following an onstage kiss between Matty Healy, lead singer of the British band The 1975, and his bandmate Ross MacDonald on stage at the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur.
The kiss, which was described as a protest against Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws, resulted in Healy being temporary detainment and sparked a mix of backlash and support.
Local LGBTQ+ activists criticised the band’s actions, fearing it could result in intensified government surveillance of the community, while others applauded the gesture for highlighting the nation’s poor LGBTQ+ rights record.
Deputy communications and digital minister Teo Nie Ching disclosed the new precautionary measure as a response to the incident involving The 1975, according to a report by The Star.
“Concert organisers are now instructed to implement emergency power cuts for any undesired occurrences on stage,” Teo stated on Monday (30 October). She emphasised that the updated protocol aims to ensure international performers respect Malaysian culture.
Additionally, Teo mentioned that comprehensive background checks on foreign artists will be enforced before they are allowed to perform in the country. Officials from various departments, including immigration and local police, will be tasked with monitoring live performance venues.
In Malaysia, where homosexuality can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years, there is a glaring absence of legal safeguards for the LGBTQ+ community. The country’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights remains one of the most conservative globally, with a 2023 index ranking it near the bottom for trans rights and Equaldex assigning it a mere 16 out of 100 in LGBTQ+ equality.