France will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children from next year.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (pictured) announced the reforms in Parliament as part of a keynote speech outlining the new Socialist government’s five-year plan, BBC News reports.

The changes to marriage and adoption laws were an election pledge by President Francois Hollande.

Ayrault had revealed that legislation had already been drafted in June.

Gay and straight French couples can currently enter Civil Solidarity Pacts but only straight couples can marry. The pacts afford many legal protections but do not give couples the right to joint adoption or artificial insemination.

Only married couples – not civil union partners – can adopt in France.

“In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination,” Ayrault told Parliament.

“Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing. The government will respond to that.”

Recent surveys in the country showed 63 percent in favour of marriage equality, with 56 percent support for gay adoption.

European nations that currently allow gay marriage include Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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