The French Government has reportedly delayed plans to debate a proposed equal marriage bill.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault named 31 October as the date when government ministers would present the law, insisting there would be no backtracking in an interview with AFP.

He said the draft legislation would also include provision for married gay couples to adopt children but the legal right will not be immediately extended to unmarried gay couples.

However, according to the Associated Press, Mr Ayrault’s office confirmed on Friday that the date has now been pushed back to 7 November and that parliamentary discussions will last until January 2013.

On Thursday, France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim joined other religious leaders in opposing the plans, while more than 1,200 French mayors and their deputies have signed a petition against the measure.

President Hollande has promised that the legislation will be on the statute books by mid-2013.