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The 1975 facing legal action from Good Vibes Festival following on-stage protest

By | Published on Tuesday 8 August 2023

The 1975

Promoters of the Malaysian festival that was forced to cancel after Matty Healy from The 1975 criticised the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws from the stage have formally threatened to sue the band over the incident.

Future Sound Asia, promoter of the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur, has confirmed it has now sent a letter to The 1975 demanding that they acknowledge liability and compensate the live music company for the cancellation that occurred following their set on the first day of the event. If they refuse to do so, FSA says it will pursue legal action through the English courts.

Addressing Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws during his set at the festival, Healy told his audience: “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with”.

He then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on the mouth and added: “I am sorry if that offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don’t care anymore. If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood, I’m not in the fucking mood”.

Those comments caused the band’s set to be cut short. And the next day FSA announced that the country’s Ministry Of Communications And Digital had responded to Healy’s on-stage comments by issuing a cancellation directive, meaning the festival’s Saturday and Sunday programmes could not go ahead.

The abrupt cancellation meant that domestic artists – who, unlike international acts, are not usually paid their full fee upfront – and people who had paid to operate food and drink stands at the event were all likely to lose out financially.

Shortly after the cancellation had been announced, a Malaysia-based law firm said it would represent affected artists and vendors on a pro-bono basis if they wanted to mount a class action lawsuit against The 1975 in relation to the incident. The law firm then said that it had five artists and five vendors signed up to participate in its proposed legal action.

At the time, FSA said it was not likely to get involved in that class action, but that it was considering its own legal options. The promoter had already stressed that The 1975 were definitely aware of the rules that apply to performers in Malaysia and that they had specifically committed to abide by them. And that includes not openly criticising the country’s laws and lawmakers.

As the promoter prepares to go formally legal, it has reportedly stated that Healy “intentionally contravened” his band’s agreement with the festival, and that his actions have “tarnished” the reputation of the event. It remains to be seen if the band voluntarily accept any liabilities in relation to the festival’s cancellation. And, if not, what legal action will follow.

In addition to any legal consequences, there has been much debate over whether or not Healy was right to say what he said on stage, even among those who agree with his criticism of Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Some have welcomed the fact he has put the global spotlight on those homophobic laws, but others have argued that the way he delivered his message could have done more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia.

That debate was discussed further on this recent edition of the Setlist podcast.