The new President-elect of France, François Hollande, the country’s first Socialist president in nearly two decades, is expected to push equal marriage and adoption rights for gay couples in the European country.

In an election dominated by economic concerns similar to the UK’s local elections last weekend, M Hollande achieved 51.6 percent of the run-off vote to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s 48.4 percent.

During his presidential campaign last month M Sarkozy reaffirmed his views of the family as being necessarily heterosexual, saying: “To my knowledge and the current state of scientific knowledge, it requires a man and a woman to have a child.”

He said he would not go so far as to make a law stating that a gay relationship is the same as a straight one in which children are able to be conceived, as that was not his understanding of a family.

Gay and straight French couples can currently enter Civil Solidarity Pacts, PACS, though only straight couples can marry.

Though affording many legal protections, a PACS does not give couples the right to joint adoption or artificial insemination.

A case at the European Court of Human Rights this year determined that the system was not discriminatory to gay couples as straight couples are also eligible for a PACS. In line with previous decisions, the court did not determine that there was a Europe-wide right to marriage equality for gay couples, leaving the issue to the French authorities.

M Hollande’s presidential election manifesto pledged however: “I will open the right to marriage and adoption to homosexual couples.”

The Socialist President-elect will take office on 15 May and has previously pledged action on marriage equality in early 2013.