US vice-president Joe Biden has criticised the booing of a gay soldier at a Republican presidential debate.

Mr Biden, whose son served in Iraq, said the booing was “reprehensible”.

The incident happened last week at a Fox News/Google debate in Orlando.

Stephen Hill, who is currently stationed in Iraq, used a video link to ask the six candidates whether they would reinstate the ban on openly gay soldiers.

Hill, who said he previously had to lie about himself to keep his job, said: “Under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”

As the video finished, he was booed and heckled by audience members.

The candidates did not condemn the crowd’s behaviour and one, Rick Santorum, declared that he would bring back the ban.

Mr Biden, speaking on The View, said: “I did have a visceral response [to it] and I’m not sure if it’s because my son spent a year in Iraq…

“I know my son and all the kids with him. I don’t think they give a damn whether the guy firing the rifle to protect them is gay or straight.”

He added: “Look, this kid risked his life, this kid was there for a year. And I, quite frankly, find it reprehensible.”