The 1975 frontman Matt Healy challenged Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ laws by kissing a male audience member during a gig in the city’s Coca-Cola Arena on Wednesday 15 August.
During the indie-pop band’s live rendition of ‘Loving Someone’, the 30-year-old yelled, “If you're gay, I love you and God freaking loves you.”
Later, he walked across the rainbow-backdropped stage, picked a fan from the crowd and smooched him.
Afterwards, he said: "I love you bro. We're all human, right?"
Following the performance, Healy thanked Dubai for the “amazing time” on Twitter noting that he didn’t think the group will be allowed back in the future due to his “behaviour.”
Thank you Dubai you were so amazing. 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
— 🥾🌍 (@Truman_Black) August 15, 2019
He continued: “Know that I love you and I wouldn’t have done anything differently given the chance again. But who knows maybe they will let me back in let’s just wait and see :)”
Many praised Healy’s actions on social media, with one fan admitting on Twitter that he “inspired [him] to come out to his mum” that same day.
what matt healy did in dubai makes me so happy and emotional. no one is willing to take about the injustices that are happening to lgbt people in the middle east. everyone is too scared to. but there can’t be change if no one is willing to do that. and he did that
— sarah (@allnightlmj) August 14, 2019
“What Matt Healy did in Dubai makes me so happy and emotional. No one is willing to talk about the injustices that are happening to lgbt people in the Middle East. Everyone is too scared to, but there can’t be a change if no one is willing to do that... and he did that.”
Others criticised him for potentially putting the man he shared the embrace with at risk, highlighting the fact that homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates and that punishments can range from fines and prison sentences, to deportation and even death.
Matt Healy is the perfect example of why life disappoints me so much these days. His actions in Dubai could have terrible consequences for the guy he kissed. But he’s so far up his own arse that he probably thinks he’s some sort of hero.
— Mary_Beth (@Scots_Bluebell) August 15, 2019
“Matt Healy has no braincells,” one Twitter user wrote. “He’s put that boy in so much danger. Homosexuality in Dubai is illegal and, in extreme cases, punishable by death. I can’t believe he has stans worried for him when he’s caused police to go searching for that boy.”
Another added: “As much as I love The 1975, Matt Healy kissing that boy in Dubai, literally putting him in a life threatening situation, to make a statement, is peak white ppl activism lmao.”
This isn’t the first time Healy has publicly shown his support for the queer community. Back in 2018, he helped to finance a new LGBTQ community centre in London.
"You might wonder why it is needed, and even ask yourself what exactly is everyone still scared of,” the Robbers singer told The Observer at the time. “But sadly, I think stigma still exists even in London and we still have some way to go."
LGBT rights are heavily suppressed in the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah and Sharjah, which together form the United Arab Emirates. All sexual relations outside a heterosexual marriage is considered a crime.