Having faced questions over his previous anti-gay positions, US Defence Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel has been defending his reputation in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

On Thursday, Mr Hagel told the committee: “No one individual vote, no one individual quote, no one individual statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record.”

Six Republicans, including four members of the Armed Services panel, have said they will oppose his nomination.

Chief among their concerns are that he is not sufficiently pro-Israel or tough enough on Iran.

However, Mr Hagel’s previous comments concerning gay rights have hindered his approval for the nomination in the eyes of LGBT advocates.

In 1998, Mr Hagel described ex-US Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, as “aggressively gay”.

Earlier in January, Mr Hormel confirmed that he had accepted the Republican former Nebraska senator’s apology and is now supporting his nomination.

Mr Hagel was previously a strong supporter of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – a law which banned openly gay people serving in the US military.

In a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, Mr Hagel said he now supports equal rights for same-sex military couples – she subsequently endorsed his nomination earlier in January.