Kevin Hart steps down as 2019 Oscars host and apologises for previous homophobic tweets

Kevin Hart has stepped down as host of the 2019 Academy Awards amid controversy over alleged homophobic tweets he posted nearly a decade ago.

The US comedian and actor was named as the host of the Oscars on Tuesday, describing the role as "the opportunity of a lifetime".

Shortly after his appointment, tweets resurfaced, originally posted between 2009 and 2011, which contained offensive language towards the LGBT community.

Amid a growing controversy and after refusing the Academy's request to apologise, Hart announced on Twitter he was stepping aside and said sorry for his "insensitive" words.

In a tweet on Friday, he said: "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.

“I sincerely apologise 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 posted a video minutes before stepping down in which he appeared to defend himself.

He said: “I just got a call from the Academy and that call basically said 'Kevin apologise for your tweets of old or we'll have to move on and find another host'. I chose to pass because I've addressed this several times. I've said who I am now verses who I was then. I'm in a completely different space in my life."

The Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 24.

More about: | Kevin Hart | Oscars