TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan will begin to register the marriages of same-sex couples on May 24, including those between Taiwan nationals and partners from one of 26 countries where gay marriage is legal, a senior official at the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said on May 20.

Staff at household registration offices around the country have been trained for the task, in addition to receiving educational training on gender- and ethnic group-related issues, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yan (陳宗彥) said at a legislative hearing.

Frontline clerks have been trained to treat couples of the same gender and people of all ethnic backgrounds with respect and equality, Chen said.

Asked about the MOI’s preparations for the registration of transnational same-sex marriage, Chen said that under the new legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, as well as the spirit of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748, same-sex couples where one party is a foreign national from a country where same-sex marriage is legal can also register to be married, starting May 24.

A total of 26 countries around the world recognize same-sex marriage, Chen said, citing statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

Information from MOFA shows that the 26 countries recognizing same-sex marriage are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.

The Legislative Yuan passed a bill Friday to make Taiwan the first country in Asia that legalizes same-sex marriage.

With the legislation, two persons of the same gender, aged 18 or older, will be allowed to register a marriage starting May 24, with at least two witnesses signing the registration document.

Under the new law, titled Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748, however, even with the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, a Taiwanese national cannot enter into a legally recognized union with a partner from a country where gay marriage is not legal.

The bill was introduced after the Constitutional Court ruled on May 24, 2017 that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional and demanded a legislative remedy within two years.

The ruling is named Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748.

By Chen Chun-hua and Elizabeth Hsu