Gay couples in France will be allowed to get married and to adopt children from next year, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced Tuesday.
"In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination," he told parliament, confirming an election promise by Socialist President Francois Hollande.
"Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing," he said in a speech outlining the new Socialist government's agenda. "The government will respond to that."
The confirmation came just days after Paris held its annual Gay Pride parade, which this year was buoyed by the promise of the new government to legalise gay marriage and adoption rights.
Symbolically, French Minister for Families Dominique Bertinotti turned out to see the parade floats set off.
A recent survey by pollster IFOP said that gays in France make up 6.5 percent of the electorate, compared with practising Catholics at 4.5 percent.
A number of European nations allow gay marriage, but not France, where only married couples and not civil union partners can adopt.
European nations including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Britain allow gay adoption.