The Log Cabin Republicans, the conservative gay campaign group which supports the GOP, is going full page with its opposition to the likely nomination of Chuck Hagel as US defence secretary.

The group took out an advert in the New York Times this week criticising the former Nebraska US senator and said he remained “wrong on gay rights, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel.”

Mr Hagel, a Republican, recently apologised for previously making homophobic remarks in 1998 about James Hormel, an openly gay nominee for ambassador to Luxembourg.

At the time, he described Mr Hormel, who went on to serve in the post, as “aggressively gay”.

Mr Hagel was a strong supporter of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military, and in 1999 told the New York Times: “The armed forces aren’t some social experiment.”

However, in a statement last week, Mr Hagel said: “They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologise to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights.

“I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”

Of the apology, Mr Hormel witheringly replied: “I have not received an apology… I thought this so-called apology, which I haven’t received, but which was made public, had the air of being a defensive move on [Mr Hagel’s] part.”

Mr Hormel went on to say that the apology appeared to have been given “only in service of his attempt to get the nomination.”

In this year’s US presidential election, the Log Cabin Republican endorsed Mitt Romney, despite his opposition to LGBT rights.