Comedian and actor Kevin Hart has dropped out of hosting the Oscars after refusing to apologise for homophobic jokes and tweets.

Following the Academy’s announcement of Hart as host, an article by The Guardian arts editor Benjamin Lee brought attention to the comic’s history of distasteful jokes.

Some of Hart’s tweets, many of which he has since deleted, included the gay slur “fag”, while another suggested he would break a doll house over his son’s head if he ever tried to play with it.

Lee also noted that in a stand-up special Hart released in 2010, the comedian included an extended attempt at a joke around the fear of having a gay child.

“One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear,” Hart said in the special.

“Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do.

“But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.

“Now with that being said, I don’t know if I handled my son’s first gay moment correctly. Every kid has a gay moment but when it happens, you’ve got to nip it in the bud!”

Screenshots of the tweets were shared on social media, with many calling for Hart to apologise over his remarks in advance of the hosting gig.

In response, Hart insisted he had already apologised, having addressed the 2010 joke in a Rolling Stone profile in 2015.

“I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now,” Hart said.

“I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can.”

Hart responded to criticism on his Instagram over the weekend, saying that those concerned by the jokes should “stop being negative”.

“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.

“There’s no reason for me to apologize for or explain anything I’ve done or said publicly in my past that may have hurt people, so long as I’m a 100% positive, happy person now.”

Hart later posted that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had contacted him with an ultimatum: acknowledge the offensive remarks and apologise, or the Academy would “have to move on and find another host”.

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

Many people expressed surprise that Hart wouldn’t formally apologise for the jokes he had made straight away, while others were unsure why Hart should feel responsible for remarks made between 2010 and 2012 – and concerned that holding Hart to account for the jokes was an example of selective outrage.

But Hart ultimately withdrew from the hosting role, tweeting an apology in the process.

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” he said.

“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,” he said.

Comedian Billy Eichner, one of the most prominent gay men working in comedy, tweeted his thoughts about the situation as it progressed over the weekend.

“I’ve been around in this business for a minute,” Eichner said.

“As one of very few openly gay men in comedy who’s fortunate enough to work as much as I do, I will ALWAYS fight for my LGBTQ community to get the respect we deserve. ALWAYS.

“I’m no saint. We just wanted a little understanding, a little explanation. Apologies are tough – they leave you vulnerable. Toxic masculinity is real.

“I deal with it in my own way too. So on that note, I appreciate Kevin Hart apologizing. And apology accepted. That’s all.”

Author Michael Arceneaux tweeted his own thoughts after Nick Cannon defended Hart by highlighting instances where Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and other white comedians had used the same slurs.

“If your response to Kevin Hart’s past homophobic comments is to highlight white comedians that have done so not to hold them accountable, but as merely as a means of deflection on behalf of Hart, you are missing the point and willingly choosing to be part of the problem,” Arceneaux wrote.

It was trans actress Indya Moore’s tweets which perhaps summarised the situation best, the weekend following Pose, on which Moore stars, being nominated for multiple Golden Globes.

A piece on The Root stated that Hart had “messed up” by “refusing to do what was easy and right” and apologising “because a new, larger audience would be hearing about the tweets and his apology for the first time.”

In response, Moore wrote:

Yeah well, black people need to stop acting like the intersections between racism and homophobia don’t exist. Colonialism weaponized God to affirm the narcissistic “manifest destiny” when you are gay and black it’s like you not black anymore. brothers like Kevin Hart need to use their priviledge (sic) to undo ideas that are putting us in isolation, foster care & graves just for existing. We need to stop using God to justify hate & violence. no matter how you translate the bible that intention isn’t holy, or positive. […] We need to actually hold emotionally vulnerable conversations around fears of lgbtq people and how those unnecessary fears translate no into normalized death and violence. We need to also talk about how innocent marginalized people are vilified & how toxic phobias are victimized.

The Academy is now searching for a new host for next year’s ceremony, with several films featuring queer characters – including Can You Ever Forgive Me?Boy Erased, and The Favourite – vying for nominations.

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