A Danish photographer has won the World Press Photo of the Year 2014.

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Danish photographer Mads Nissen has won the World Press Photo of the Year 2014 with a photo of a gay couple during an intimate moment in St Petersburg, Russia.

Nissen, who works for Danish daily newspaper Politiken and is represented by agency Panos Pictures, wins €10,000, plus a Canon DSLR kit.

The winning shot is part of a larger project called ‘Homophobia in Russia’. It also won first place in the Contemporary Issues category.

‘Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia,’ said World Press Photo organisers in a statement.

‘Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups.’

New York Times director of photography Michele McNally, chair of the judges, said: ‘It is a historic time for the image… 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.’

Fellow judge Pamela Chen said: ‘We were looking for an image that would matter tomorrow, not just today.’

Alessia Glaviano added: ‘I was hoping for a picture that was open and multi-layered, not only about a single event, but a global issue.

‘Today terrorists use graphic images for propaganda. We have to respond with something more subtle, intense and thoughtful.’

The win is the latest in a string of accolades for Mads Nissen, who attended the Danish School of Journalism and won five Danish Press Photo first prizes in 2010 alone, including Photographer of the Year.