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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) – Comedian and Philadelphia native Kevin Hart is stepping down as the host of the Academy Awards over his past homophobic tweets.
The tweets, between 2009 and 2011, included derogatory language referring to gay people and made disparaging comments about sexuality. Some of the tweets have since been deleted.
One of the tweets from 2011, that has since been deleted, said “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’.”
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” Hart, who is currently performing in Sydney, Australia, said via Twitter. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people… I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
Hart announced on his official Instagram page that he would host the Academy Awards for the first time in the coming year.
“For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars and my answer was always the same…I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it’s suppose to,” he wrote when he announced the news on Tuesday.
View this post on Instagram
Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry….I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people….there is nothing that you can do to change that…NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all….with that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please….What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY…..ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY. If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you….Have a beautiful day
In another Instagram post on Thursday, Hart said the Academy asked him to apologize or they would find another host. Hart said he chose not to issue the apology and step down instead, saying he did not want to contribute to “feeding the internet trolls.”
“The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times,” Hart said. “I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”
Chad Griffin, the head of an LGBT civil rights advocacy group called the Human Rights Campaign, responded to Hart on Twitter.
“You have a rare opportunity to take responsibility, teach people in this moment, & send a message to LGBTQ youth that they matter & deserve dignity & respect. You say you’ve grown. Show us. Make amends for hurtful things you’ve said & affirm LGBTQ people,” Griffin said.
CNN has reached out to Hart’s team and the Academy for a response.
This is not the only time Hart has addressed controversy over social media. Last year, he came forward to admit he had cheated on his pregnant wife, Eniko Parrish, ahead of an extortion plot. Months later, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office charged his former friendwith using video evidence of Hart’s affair to attempt to extort him.
“I’m not going to allow a person to have financial gain off of my mistakes, and in this particular situation that was what was attempted,” Hart said. “I said I’d rather fess up to my mistakes.”
(©Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)