The organiser of a Malaysian festival cancelled after a kiss between two male members of The 1975 is seeking $2.7 million in damages from the British indie-rock band, its lawyer said Friday.
Homosexuality is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and laws criminalising sodomy are punishable by imprisonment, while LGBTQ people in the country also face regular discrimination by authorities.
The Good Vibes music festival in Kuala Lumpur was cancelled after the band’s frontman Matt Healy launched a profanity-laden speech and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald during their July 21 performance.
“I can confirm that my firm issued a seven-day letter of claim to the UK band 1975 demanding for RM12.3 million ($2.68 million) in damages on behalf of Future Sound Asia (FSA),” David Dinesh Mathew, lawyer for event organiser FSA said in a statement.
David said the claim filed on Monday against the band was “essentially for breach of contract”.
Healy’s representative signed a pre-show written assurance that the band would “adhere to all local guidelines and regulations” in their set, he said.
The cancellation of the festival after their show “had repercussions on local artists and small businesses” who had relied on the festival for their livelihoods, David added.
The band have until Monday to respond to the letter.
Healy had told Malaysian fans on stage that the band thought of pulling out of the festival on Friday, saying: “I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”
Malaysian government ministers condemned the singer for breaching local customs and moved to ban the group from the country.
Some in the LGBTQ community in Malaysia criticised Healy on social media, saying his actions had made their situation even more challenging.
The band cancelled shows in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Taiwan after the uproar.
The on-stage protest was not a first for Healy, who kissed a male fan at a 2019 concert in the United Arab Emirates, which also has tough anti-LGBTQ laws.