A group of Malaysian musicians and festival vendors are preparing a class action lawsuit against the 1975 after frontman Matty Healy’s onstage criticism of the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ at the Good Vibes festival saw the entire event cancelled.
On Friday, Healy paused the band’s set at the Kuala Lumpur event to admit that he hadn’t looked into the country’s punitive LGBTQ+ laws before agreeing to perform there. “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 said.
“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,” he continued. “If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood, I’m not in the fucking mood.”
The band’s set was cut 30 minutes later, and authorities cancelled the remainder of the three-day festival the following day. The 1975 have been banned from performing in the country and 18 police reports have been filed.
The class action lawsuit names Healy and his three bandmates and seeks compensation over losses incurred as a result of the cancellation. While international artists were paid in full prior to the event, payment terms differ for local artists, a representative for festival promoter Future Sound Asia told NME. “Unfortunately, the unforeseen cancellation of the festival does throw a spanner in the works. It’s a very regrettable situation and we fully acknowledge the impact on our local talent – all of whom have been immensely supportive in these challenging times.”
Twenty eight food vendors were also said to have been affected. Future Sound Asia called the cancellation a “catastrophic financial blow”.
Mathew Thomas Philip of Malaysian law firm Thomas Phillip labelled Healy’s remarks “a deliberate reckless act done knowing well [sic] of the consequences”.
At a town hall meeting attended by musicians, vendors and media in the Hartamas area of Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Philip said: “My view is that the 1975 must be held responsible and accountable for the losses suffered by the artists and vendors.” Five musicians and vendors are currently participating in the class action, Philip told NME, and seek general damages alongside exemplary and aggravated damages.
Future Sound Asia is not involved but told the magazine it was “happy to assist them in any way needed” and said the company is “currently exploring legal options” against the band.
The Guardian has contacted representatives for the 1975 for comment. Healy previously commented on the incident on Instagram, sharing the festival’s statement on the event cancellation with the caption: “Ok well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks”.
Healy’s comments have drawn criticism from LGBTQ+ Malaysians for obstructing the work of local activists but support from others, including Peter Tatchell, for highlighting the country’s human rights abuses.
Future Sound Asia has said it fears the incident “will erode the confidence of music promoters and various stakeholders in the live entertainment industry across the nation and threaten the stability of our burgeoning live arts scene.”