An intimate image of a gay couple in Russia has won World Press Photo of the Year 2014, beating 97,911 other images.
The photo is part of Danish photographer Mads Nissen’s project called ‘Homophobia in Russia’, which depicts the daily struggle of life in Russia for LGBT people.
The image, which was shot in St Petersburg shows couple Jon and Alex, who the artist sees as a ‘modern-day Romeo and Juliet’ story.
The image has been praised for its subtle beauty in comparison to the graphic images often featured in the media in 2014.
World Press Photo jury member Pamela Chen said: “Today, terrorists use graphic images for propaganda. We have to respond with something more subtle, intense and thoughtful.”
In 2013, the Russian government passed a law criminalizing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. In January this year, another law was passed banning transgender people for obtaining driving licenses.
Nissen’s photo was selected among 97,912 images submitted by 5,692 press photographers, photojournalists, and documentary photographers in 131 different countries. Nissen has won a £7394 cash prize for winning.
He is a a staff photographer for the Danish daily newspaper Politiken and has photographed gay pride rallies in St Petersburg which were declared illegal under the law banning “gay propaganda”.
Jury chair Michele McNally said: “The winning image needs to be aesthetic, to have impact, and to have the potential to become iconic. This photo is aesthetically powerful, and it has humanity.”