Russian clinics will soon be staffed with sexologists to help patients "overcome" homosexuality and various sexual "mental disorders," a health ministry order said, in the latest Kremlin attack on what it calls "non-traditional lifestyles."
The order, which takes effect on July 1, comes amid a clampdown on LGBT rights, which President Vladimir Putin has sought to portray as evidence of moral decay in Western countries and from which Russia must be protected.
"The help of such specialists is necessary if a person wants to recover from frigidity, impotence, or such violations of sexual behavior as fetishism, masochism and sadism," the official newspaper of Russia's parliament said.
Under the order, signed by Putin, the specialists will also help patients deal with "non-standard preferences such as autoeroticism, homosexuality, bestiality," it said.
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1990
Russia did so in 1999.
Last December, however, Putin signed a law expanding restrictions on the promotion of what it calls "LGBT propaganda," effectively outlawing any public expression of the behavior or lifestyle of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals or transgender people in Russia.
Authorities have already used this and older laws to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.
This week, the director of the LGBT support group Vykhod ("Coming Out") was fined 150,000 roubles ($1,715) by a regional court after the group failed to identify itself in a social media post as a "foreign agent" as required under the new law, the Novaya Gazeta Europe newspaper reported.
In a similar vein, an online cinema service was fined 3.7 million roubles ($42,295) on Thursday for failing to provide warning of LGBT content in films it aired.
Earlier this month, Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, gave its initial backing to legislation that would ban gender reassignment surgery.
Under the health ministry's new order, medical staff will also help married couples "achieve sexual harmony" and advise parents on how to educate their children about sex, the parliamentary paper said.
($1 = 87.4805 roubles)