The 1975 faces $2.7 million lawsuit over gay kiss.

The 1975 faces $2.7 million lawsuit over gay kiss.

The 1975 Faces Demand for Compensation After Controversial Performance in Malaysia

Future Sound Asia (FSA) sent a letter to the band, The 1975, demanding compensation over a breach of contract, according to FSA lawyer David Dinesh Mathew. The controversy stems from the band’s performance at the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur on July 21, where lead singer Matty Healy used profanities in his speech criticizing the Malaysian government’s stance against homosexuality. During the performance, Healy also kissed bassist Ross MacDonald, which was captured on video and sparked a backlash in the predominantly Muslim country.

In Malaysia, homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison and caning. The government swiftly condemned Healy’s conduct and blacklisted the band, resulting in the early conclusion of the three-day festival. The controversy did not only draw criticism from the government but also from some members of the LGBTQ+ community, who felt that Healy’s actions disrupted the work of activists pushing for change and endangered the community.

According to Mathew’s letter, the band had given a written pledge before the show, vowing to adhere to all local guidelines and regulations. However, Healy’s “use of abusive language, equipment damage, and indecent stage behavior” not only caused reputational damage but also financial losses to FSA. The lawyer emphasized that the band’s actions had significant repercussions on local artists and small businesses. These stakeholders had relied on the festival for creative opportunities and their livelihoods.

As a result, FSA is demanding that The 1975 acknowledge their liability and pay 12.3 million ringgit (approximately $3 million) in compensation for the damages incurred. The organization also stated on its website that it is in the process of accommodating all refund requests from disappointed festival-goers.

Mathew further stated that if the band fails to respond by Monday, a week after the legal letter of claim was sent, FSA will initiate legal action against The 1975 in the courts of England. The controversy has had broader implications for the band, as they also canceled their shows in Taiwan and Jakarta, Indonesia, following the incident in Kuala Lumpur. It is worth noting that this is not the first time that Matty Healy has made a provocative on-stage display in the name of LGBTQ+ rights. In 2019, he kissed a male fan during a concert in the United Arab Emirates, a country where same-sex sexual activity is illegal.

The incident surrounding The 1975 highlights the complex intersection of art, activism, and cultural sensibilities. While some argue that artists should have the freedom to express themselves and use their platform to promote social causes, there is also a need to be mindful of local laws and cultural sensitivities when performing in different countries. This incident serves as a reminder of the power and potential consequences of using art for provocative statements in societies with differing values and legal frameworks.

The resolution of this dispute will undoubtedly have implications not only for The 1975 but also for future performances by international artists in Malaysia. It remains to be seen how the band will respond to the demands made by FSA, and whether they will choose to engage in legal proceedings or seek a negotiated settlement. Regardless of the outcome, the incident has sparked discussions and raised important questions about the boundaries of artistic expression and the responsibility of performers on the global stage.