Tory leader David Cameron has promised that gay couples in civil partnerships will receive the same maternity and paternity leave as their straight counterparts.

Both the Conservative and Labour parties have announced new proposals for parental leave. Labour plans to introduce a year of maternity leave with an option after the first 26 weeks for either parent to take the remaining time off.

The Tories would allow both parents to take up to 26 weeks off together and this would apply to couples who adopt or use artificial insemination.

Mr Cameron told Attitude magazine: “All our plans for full flexibility over maternity and paternity leave would be available for adoptive homosexual couples as well as heterosexual couples.”

Marriage and family have become hot topics between the Conservatives and Labour as both step up their election campaigns.

The Tories have pledged to give tax breaks to committed gay and straight couples. Labour has argued that this will stigmatise divorced and single parents.