A picture of two gay lovers in St Petersburg has won the World Press Photo of the Year. Photographer Mads Nissen wanted to highlight the legal and social discrimination gay people in Russia face.
The photo in which the faces of Jon, 21, and Alex, 25, are picked out by light in a darkened bedroom, won the ‘contemporary issues’ category before taking the overall prize, beating more conventional conflict shots that the competition is best known for.
@MadsNissenPhoto! http://t.co/tIaWn56X4fpic.twitter.com/wmhlQ3oLvR— World Press Photo (@WorldPressPhoto) February 12, 2015
“Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia,” Amsterdam-based World Press Photo said in a statement. “Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination.”
Jury chair Michele McNally, director of photography at The New York Times, said the image was “aesthetically powerful, and it has humanity.”
The photo was taken by Mads Nissen, who was born in 1979, a staff photographer for the Danish daily newspaper Politiken.
Today is a really really special day for me and the LGBTs in Russia. My image of Jon and Alex is The World Press Photo of the Year!!! #WPP— Mads Nissen (@MadsNissenPhoto) February 12, 2015
Nissen’s “Homophobia in Russia” work featured in Human Rights Watch’s latest report License to Harm.
The first prize for a single spot news image went to Bulent Kilic of Turkey for a picture of an injured girl surrounded by police and soaked by water cannons at a protest in Istanbul.
“Istanbul Protest” and “Ebola in Sierra Leone” also picked up awards in the competition.