DADT campaigner Dan Choi on trial for White House protest

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Gay former Army lieutenant Dan Choi has appeared in federal court over a protest he held against the military gay ban.

The former soldier, who was dismissed two years ago after coming out on television, chained himself to the fence of the White House last November.

His lawyer has claimed he is being treated differently because he is gay.

Usually, those charged with protesting at the White House are tried at a local court and given a fine of up to $1,000.

However, Choi has been charged in a federal court, where he faces a fine and up to six months in jail.

His lawyer Robert Feldman told Associated Press: “They want him to go away. He is the gay man who is finally attracting the attention.”

Twelve other protesters present at the demonstration accepted deals to plead guilty at federal court in order to avoid jail time.

Choi says he will not plead guilty and did not even consider striking a plea deal.

His lawyer will argue that he did not hear police commands to move and that he was standing on a low wall, rather than on the pavement.

He held similar protests in April and March of last year but prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.

Choi has become one of the most recognisable faces in the battle to repeal the ban on openly gay troops.

He has been critical of what he sees as softer tactics by more established gay rights campaigners.

Speaking to earlier this year, he said: “I’ve never really been a fan of direct action, but I believe that direction action serves a purpose and keeps the media attuned to the anger on the streets.”

He added: “Politicians don’t like carrots. They don’t listen to carrots. To me that was the political lesson of this fight, one that I think is lost on so many people.”

The 1993 law is due to be repealed at the end of September.