Women and ethnic minorities are more likely than white men to be fired under the US military’s ban on openly gay service members, official figures have suggested.

According to data obtained by Servicemembers United, ethnic minorites make up around 29 per cent of those in the armed forces but account for 45 per cent of the total number of firings (619) in the last financial year.

Women represent 15 per cent of active service members but accounted for a third of the dismissals.

Alexander Nicholson, a former US Army interrogator and the executive director of Servicemembers United, said the problem had been known about for some time.

He added: “These new numbers, however, show that the problem is getting worse and that this policy has ultimately failed.

“Lawmakers have a responsibility to address this problem immediately, and the president should hasten the appointment of a new undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness who is qualified and willing to deal with this issue.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) allows gay men and women to serve in the US armed forces so long as they keep their sexuality secret. Thousands have been fired under the law, which was introduced in 1993.

Several recent reports of homophobic of bullying in the armed forces have increased calls for the law to be repealed.

Servicemembers United says it has asked the Department of Defence for a much larger collection of data on DADT discharges, which is says is available and unclassified. As yet, military officials have released “a small fraction” of the documents requested.