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PHOTOGRAPHY

Danish photojournalist wins World Press Photo

Mads Nissen's photo of a Russian gay couple's intimate moment took home the top World Press Photo prize and also topped the Contemporary Issues category.

Danish photojournalist wins World Press Photo
The winning shot. Photo: Mads Nissen/Scanpix/Panos Pictures
A Danish photojournalist’s image of a gay couple locked in a tender embrace won the prestigious World Press Photo award on Thursday, highlighting the plight of sexual minorities in Russia.
 
Danish photographer Mads Nissen shot his evocative winning picture of "Jon and Alex" in a bare room in Saint Petersburg, with only a brown curtain as a backdrop.
 
One of the men is lying down with his eyes closed as the other looks down at him tenderly, their hands locked together.
 
Russia's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has come under increasing attacks in Russia, with the government earlier this year passing a controversial law banning transvestites and transsexuals from driving.
 
In 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the so-called "propaganda" of gay relationships to minors, despite an outcry from rights groups, Western governments and celebrities including Madonna.
 
Nissen's winning shot is part of his larger project called "Homophobia in Russia" and also won first prize in the Contemporary Issues category.
 
“Today is a really really special day for me and the LGBTs in Russia,” Nissen wrote on Twitter following his win. 
 
Speaking about Nissen's winning photograph, jury chairwoman Michelle McNally said "it is a historic time for the image… the winning image needs to be aesthetic, to have impact and have the potential to become iconic".
 
"This photo is aesthetically powerful, and it has humanity," said McNally, who is The New York Times' director of photography and assistant managing editor.
 
Nissen, a staff photographer at Politiken newspaper, told AFP one of the reasons he thought he had won was that "gay rights have become an indicator" of how human rights are perceived in general.
 
"These two, Jon and Alex, are open and they are activists, and when they allowed me to shoot them they knew what they were doing. What they want most of all is for their cause to get acknowledgement and attention. They are willing to fight for it.  They also belong to a new generation of activists who won’t bow their heads," said Nissen.

 
More of Nissen's work can be seen on his website while the rest of the World Press Photo winners can be seen here
 
Mads Nissen. Photo: Scanpix
World Press Photo winner Mads Nissen. Photo: Scanpix

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EQUALITY

Lego celebrates diversity with rainbow-coloured figurines

Danish toy brick maker Lego unveiled a new set of rainbow-coloured figurines on Thursday to celebrate the diversity of its fans and the LGBTQI+ community.

Lego celebrates diversity with rainbow-coloured figurines
Lego's new 'Everyone is Awesome' set. Photo: Handout/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The “Everyone is Awesome” set features 11 monochrome mini figures, each with its own individual hairstyle and rainbow colour.

“I wanted to create a model that symbolises inclusivity and celebrates everyone, no matter how they identify or who they love,” set designer Matthew Ashton said in a statement.

He said the fact that he belongs to the LGBTQI+ community had encouraged him to create the new Lego bricks.

“I knew I needed to step up to the plate and make a real statement about love and inclusivity, and generally spread some Lego love to everybody who needs it,” Ashton said.

“Kids are so much more accepting of each other and everybody else’s differences and I think that’s one of the things we can all learn from kids, is just go out there, have fun, be open to everybody and the world would be a much more happier, inclusive and living place,” he added.

The new 346-piece set will go on sale June 1st to coincide with Pride Month, which is dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQI+ communities around the world. 

READ ALSO: Lego launches bricks with Braille

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