Kevin Hart steps down as Oscars host

The comedian said he did not want to be a 'distraction' and apologised after past homophobic comments resurfaced

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 20, 2018 US actor/comedian Kevin Hart attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.  US comedian and actor Kevin Hart announced on December 4, 2018, that he would be hosting the 91st Academy Awards in February. / AFP / ANGELA WEISS
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Two days after been named host of the Academy Awards, Kevin Hart has stepped down following an outcry over past homophobic tweets by the comedian.

Capping a swift fallout, Hart wrote on Twitter that he was withdrawing as Oscars host because he didn't want to be a distraction. "I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past," he wrote.

Hart stepped aside about an hour after refusing to apologise for tweets that resurfaced after he was announced as Oscars host on Tuesday. In a video on Instagram, Hart said the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gave him an ultimatum: apologise or "we're going to have to move on and find another host."

"I chose to pass on the apology," Hart said. "The reason why I passed is because I've addressed this several times."

The film academy did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday evening.

Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 2009-2011. But they had already been screen-captured and shared online. In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: "Yo if my son comes home & try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay."

In an earlier post Thursday, Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should "stop being negative" about his earlier anti-gay remarks.

"I'm almost 40 years old. If you don't believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don't know what to tell you," Hart said, adding in all-caps: "I love everybody."

Hart's attitudes about homosexuality were also a well-known part of his stand-up act. In the 2010 special "Seriously Funny," he said "one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay."

"Keep in mind, I'm not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will," Hart said.

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GLAAD, the advocacy group for LGBT rights, had said on Thursday that it reached out to Oscars broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and Hart's management to "discuss Kevin's anti-LGBT rhetoric and record."

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote: "Homophobia is not positivity." Comedian and actor Billy Eichner said "a simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple."

It's not the first time an Oscars host has been potentially derailed by anti-gay remarks. Ahead of the 2012 Academy Awards, producer Brett Ratner, who had been paired with host Eddie Murphy, resigned days after using a gay slur at a film screening. Murphy soon after exited, as well.

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