Intimate photograph of gay Russian couple wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014

Other winning photographs highlighted animal cruelty in China and the Ebola crisis in west Africa

A photograph showing an intimate moment between a young gay couple in St Petersburg has won the top prize at the World Press Photo of the Year competition.

Taken by Mads Nissen, a staff photographer for the Danish daily newspaper Politiken, the image shows Russian couple Jon, 21, and Alex, 25, in an embrace.

The photograph’s insight into gay life in Russia highlights the increasing difficulties lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face under Putin’s regime.

 

Alessia Glaviano, Picture Editor at Vogue Italia and one of the members of the judging panel, said: “The photo has a message about love being an answer in the context of all that is going on in the world. It is about love as a global issue, in a way that transcends homosexuality.

“It sends out a strong message to the world, not just about homosexuality, but about equality, about gender, about being black or white, about all of the issues related to minorities.”

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Contemporary Issues runner-up: A worker at a Christmas decoration factory, in China

The photograph also won first prize in the contemporary issues category, beating runner up Ronghui Chen. Chen’s image shows a 19-year-old Chinese worker in a Christmas decorations factory wearing a Santa Claus hat and a face mask that he has to change five times a day.

Other winning photographs include a delirious Ebola victim being lifted from the ground by nurses after escaping from his isolation ward in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which came first in the general news category.

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General News winner: Petter Muller's photograph of a delirious Ebola patient being lifted back to his isolation unit in Sierra Leone

A photograph of a young woman waiting to be taken to Sunday School in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Australia won the portrait category, while a black and white image of a circus monkey cowering as its trainer approached it in China came first in the nature category.

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Portrait winner: Laurinda waiting in her purple dress for the bus that will take her to Sunday School in Australia

The winners were selected from more than 95,000 images submitted by press photographers from 131 countries across the world.

First prize winners in each category will receive 1,500 euros, while Nissen will receive 10,000 euros for his top photograph.