The 1975 just played their first-ever show in Dubai on Wednesday, August 4, and the band might not be back for a while — or maybe ever. Turns out, frontman Matty Healy violated United Arab Emirates law by going into the crowd during their show and kissing a male concertgoer. Healy doesn’t seem to have any regrets, but it’s important to note that there have been several arrests for heterosexual kissing in public in the UAE and homosexuality is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, according to the UK’s Foreign Office.
In a now-deleted video, the male fan was reportedly heard shouting “Marry Me” as Healy passed by while singing “Loving Someone,” Billboard reported. Healy then walked up to the fan, gave him a hug, and asked if he’d like a kiss. After he agreed, Healy kissed him on the lips before telling the crowd, “We’re all human, right?”
Once the concert ended, Healy took to Twitter to let his followers know that the band might not be welcomed back into the country due to its homophobic policies. “Thank you Dubai you were so amazing,” he wrote. “i don’t think we’ll be allowed back due to my ‘behaviour’ but know that I love you and I wouldn’t have done anything differently given the chance again.”
Clearly, this situation is way more complicated than just a kiss between two guys: While it’s extremely important to protest blatant homophobia when we see it happening, a public show of affection between two men in Dubai could have severe implications on the fan’s safety. This consensual act of protest sparked an even larger conversation online, with many people expressing concern for the fan. “i know matty healy kissed a man in an openly-anti lgbt country but please refrain from posting the photos,” a fan tweeted. “… the man he kissed could face serious danger if his face goes all over social media.”
Simultaneously, other fans defended Healy for what they saw as a revolutionary moment for the historically anti-LGBTQ nation. “Matty Healy was preforming in Dubai, an anti LGBT city, and kissed a male fan. Legendary,” someone else wrote.
This isn’t the first time The 1975 has signaled their political leanings: Last year, the band helped fund London’s first LGBTQ center, and Healy called out male misogynists in an acceptance speech at 2019’s Brit Awards, and their current album features an opening track with a long monologue by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.