The only female contender for the Presidency of the United States made an unpublicised appearance at a gay event on Friday.

Senator Hillary Clinton spoke at a lunch hosted by Human Rights Campaign, the leading gay rights advocacy group in America.

However, her office did not publicise her comments and yesterday she dodged questions as to why she spoke so warmly in favour of gay rights.

Senator Clinton, a Democrat, told the HRC board meeting that she wants to see an end to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the US Armed Forces that bars openly gay, bisexual or lesbian people from serving.

Addressing 400 members, supporters and volunteers, the 59-year-old former First Lady said:

“This policy doesn’t just hurt gays and lesbians, it hurts all our troops and this to me is a matter of national security and we’re going to fix it.”

It was during the first term of her husband’s Presidency that the policy was introduced.

Senator Barack Obama and former Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards, both strong contenders for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008, support the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” along with the majority of Americans, according to recent opinion polls.

Recently a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Defence Secretary have spoken out against the policy.

Senator Clinton was on the campaign trail in Iowa yesterday, and was asked twice why she or her staff had not made any statements about her comments to the HRC.

She replied: “You’ll have to ask my campaign.”

In her address to gay rights activists, Senator Clinton claimed that the gay community would have an open channel of communication with the Oval Office if she is elected.

“I want you to know that just as you always have an open door to my Senate office, you will always have an open door to the White House and together we can continue this journey,” she said.

HRC said on their website that they are not endorsing any candidate yet.

“The Human Rights Campaign has a thorough vetting process for political candidates and when any possible endorsement is made that information will be released publicly.”

For years the favourite to win the Democratic party nomination for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton is under fire for her hawkish approach to the war on terror.