A captain in the US Air Force charged with drugging and raping four men says they are lying to avoid being exposed as gay.

Capt. Devery L. Taylor, who works as a hospital administrator, faces life in prison if a court-martial finds him guilty of the charges of forcible sodomy, kidnapping and attempted sodomy.

The case has exposed the precarious position gay, lesbian and bisexual service personnel in the US armed forces are put in by the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.

Capt. Taylor claims all the men had consensual sex with him.

“This case is about homosexual activity that is not approved of by the military services in our country at this time,” defence lawyer Martin Regan told the military court, according to msnbc.com.

“Every one of these individuals but one is either in the military service or wants to be in the service,”

The prosecution contend that Capt. Taylor used the “date rape” drug GHB on the men, and two have testified that they felt drugged.

The case, which is being heard at a Florida Air Force base, continues.

Current Department of Defence policy on gays in the military was formulated in1992.

President Bill Clinton promised to open the armed services to openly gay, bisexual and lesbian people during his successful campaign for President, but caved in to pressure from the Army – the compromise was the current policy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

The policy means gay men, bisexuals or lesbians can serve in the Armed Forces as long as they conceal their orientation.

Since 1993, over 11,000 personnel have been dismissed because of their sexuality, while many others face harassment.

A Department of Defence survey in 2000 found that 80% of troops had heard derogatory anti-gay remarks during the prior year.

Thirty-seven percent said they witnessed or experienced targeted incidents of harassment, 9% of whom reported anti-gay threats and 5% of whom reported witnessing or experiencing anti-gay physical assaults.