Gay rights activists interrupted a fundraiser yesterday to heckle US president Barack Obama on repealing the military gay ban.

Mr Obama was at a Los Angeles fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer when several activists began shouting during his speech to demand he move faster to repeal the policy.

A journalist from the Washington Times reported that the group was from GetEqual, a new gay rights group which was behind a protest at the White House last month.

Mr Obama eventually shouted back that he would repeal the law and suggested that they shout at someone who did not agree.

In last month’s demonstration, two gay soldiers chained themselves to the gates of the presidential building and were subsequently arrested.

Currently, soldiers can be fired if their homosexuality becomes known to superiors. The law is also known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as it prohibits superiors asking soldiers outright if they are gay.

US defence secretary Robert Gates announced last month that he was implementing changes to stem discharges, such as disregarding anonymous outings and raising the bar of evidence needed to fire someone.

But he rejected calls to suspend firings completely while a review is underway. Instead, he said that the stopgap changes were about “common sense” and “common decency”.

An estimated 13,000 soldiers have been fired since the law came into effect in 1993.

US president Barack Obama promised to repeal it in his 2008 election campaign and surveys show that support for out gay soldiers is steadily rising among the public.

Some military leaders oppose lifting the ban and say it will harm morale and recruitment, especially in the middle of two wars.