A lesbian soldier who deserted from the US army because of alleged abuse related to her sexuality has appealed for refugee status in Canada.

Bethany Smith, who now lives in Ottawa, told reporters on Tuesday that: “I had to endure not only verbal and physical harassment, but death threats and harassment letters on my door every day.”

She said that the abuse started after fellow soldiers saw her holding hands with another woman.

Fearing for her life, Smith, who was 19 at the time, claims that she asked to be discharged on the basis of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell US military ban on gay personnel.

Her superior, however, apparently refused, saying that he would only consider this once her unit returned from being sent to serve in Afghanistan.

Smith then drove to the US border and crossed over into Canada where she now lives.

Her lawyers argue that despite previous failed attempts by other US deserters to claim refugee status, Smith has a good case because her life was threatened.

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