President Barack Obama declared on Wednesday that the world's nations must stand up for the rights of gay people.

Obama made his comments in an address before world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“[T]o make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs,” Obama said. “No country can afford the cancer of corruption. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That is why we have partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on Open Government that helps ensure accountability and empower their citizens. No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere. And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.”

Obama did not specifically mention which rights he was alluding to, but gay activists have urged the president to endorse gay marriage ahead of next year's general election. The president's remarks come a day after the military officially ended “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the policy that banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.