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.
World Press Photo winners 2014
World Press Photo winners 2014
1/20 1st prize in the General News Single category by Sergei Ilnitsky (Russia)
A kitchen table after a mortar attack in downtown Donetsk, Ukraine
2/20 2nd prize in the Spot News Stories category by Jerome Sessini (France)
An Orthodox priest blessing the protesters on a barricade in Kiev, Ukraine
3/20 2nd Prize in Contemporrary Issues Singles category by Ronghui Chen (China)
A worker at a Christmas decoration factory, in China
4/20 1st prize in the Portraits Singles category by Raphaela Rosella (Australia)
Laurinda waiting in her purple dress for the bus that will take her to Sunday School in Moree, New South Wales
5/20 1st prize in the Spot News Single category by Bulent Kilic (Turkey)
A young girl pictured after she was wounded during clashes between riot-police and protesters after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year's anti-government protests, in Istanbul, Turkey
6/20 1st prize in the Nature Singles category by Yongzhi Chu (China)
A monkey being trained for the circus cowering as its trainer approaches
7/20 World Press Photo of the Year 2014 by Mads Nissen (Denmark)
Jonathan Jacques Louis, 21, and Alexander Semyonov, 25, a gay couple during an intimate moment in St. Petersburg, Russia
8/20 2nd Prize in Daily Life Stories category by Sarker Protick (Bangladesh)
John wearing his grandson's bowler hat in Dhaka, Bangladesh
9/20 2nd prize in the General News Single category by Massimo Sestini (Italy)
Shipwrecked people are rescued, aboard a boat 20 miles north of Libya, by a frigate of the Italian navy on June 7, 2014. After hundreds of men, women and children had drowned in 2013 off the coast of Sicily and Malta, the Italian government put its navy to work under a campaign called "Mare Nostrum" rescuing refugees at sea
10/20 1st prize in the General News Stories category by Pete Muller (USA)
Medical staff at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center escort a man in the throes of Ebola-induced delirium back into the isolation ward from which he escaped in Hastings, Sierra Leone
11/20 2nd Prize in Nature Singles category by Ami Vitale (USA)
A group of young Samburu warriors encounter a rhino for the first time in their lives in Lewa Downs, Northern Kenya. Most people in Kenya never get the opportunity to see the wildlife that exists literally in their own backyard
12/20 2nd Prize Prize in Daily Life Singles category by Asa Sjostrom (Sweden)
Twin Brothers Igor and Arthur celebrating their birthday in an orphanage, in Baroncea, Moldova
13/20 3rd Prize in Portrait Stories category by Paolo Verzone (Italy)
A cadet in the Koninklijke Militaire Academie (The Royal Military Academy) located in Breda, The Netherlands
14/20 1st prize in the Long-Term Projects category by Darcy Padilla (USA)
Image from the project entitled 'Family Love 1993-2014 - The Julie Project'
15/20 2nd prize in the General News Stories category by Glenna Gordon (USA)
School uniforms belonging to three of the nearly 300 girls kidnapped from a remote school dormitory in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group
16/20 3rd Prize in Contemporary Issues Stories category by Tomas van Houtryve (Belgium)
Students seen in a schoolyard in El Dorado County, California
17/20 1st prize in the Nature Stories category by Anand Varma (USA)
'When spores of the fungus land on an ant, they penetrate its exoskeleton and enter its brain, compelling the host to leave its normal habitat on the forest floor and scale a nearby tree. Filled to bursting with fungus, the dying ant fastens itself to a leaf or another surface. Fungal stalks burst from the ant's husk and rain spores onto ants below to begin the process again' in Manaus, Brazil
18/20 2nd Prize in Sports Stories category by Sergei Ilnitsky (Russia)
Ski jumper Marinus Kraus of Germany in action during the qualifying round of the HS134 FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Nizhny Tagil, Russia
19/20 2nd prize in the Sports Singles category by Al Bello (USA)
Odell Beckham of the New York Giants making a one-handed touchdown catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA
20/20 1st prize in the Sports Singles category by Bao Tailiang (China)
Argentina player Lionel Messi looks at the World Cup trophy during the final celebrations at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Argentina were defeated by Germany in the final
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.”
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.
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.
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.