Hollande (left) and Ayrault
France's newly elected President Hollande and newly named Prime Minister Ayrault leave after a traditional ceremony at Paris' city hall. Reuters

Homosexual couples in France will be granted the right to marry and adopt children in 2013, according to a speech delivered in parliament by Prime Minister Jean Marc-Ayrault, fulfilling a campaign pledge by President Francois Hollande.

Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing. The government will respond to that, he told MPs.

The announcement was part of a much broader focus on what the Socialist government seeks to do over the next five years of its term.

At the moment, only married couples (excluding those in civil union partnerships) are permitted to adopt. However, a survey taken earlier in the year revealed that almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the French public favor gay marriage, while almost that many (56 percent) support gay adoption.

Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Britain already permit gay adoption.

Although some opposition might be expected from conservative Catholics -- they appear to be outnumbered in France. According to the Ifop polling agency, 6.5 percent of the French voting public is gay, and only 4.5 percent of the electorate are practicing Catholics.