By Sonia Elks
LONDON, Nov 25 (Openly) - LGBT+ people have seen a rise in tolerance in almost every region of the world over the last decade, according to an index released on Monday.
Iceland was named as the most tolerant country towards LGBT+ people in a survey of 167 countries by British think-tank the Legatum Institute, while central Asian country Tajikistan was in last place.
"It is encouraging to see that our 2019 Prosperity Index shows a rise in tolerance towards the LGBT community globally over the past decade," Shaun Flanagan of the institute's Centre for Metrics told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"However, the LGBT community, as well as other often marginalised groups, such as immigrants, ethnic minorities and religious groups, still face considerable persecution across certain parts of the world today."
The data is part of the 2019 Legatum Prosperity Index, which measures a host of factors affecting countries' ability to create wealth and wellbeing, ranging from investment environment to health and personal freedom.
Social tolerance towards minority groups increased in 111 of 167 countries over the last decade, and across every region except for Eastern Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa, it found.
The rise in acceptance of LGBT+ people was particularly marked, rising from about one in four people expressing acceptance a decade ago to almost a third in the latest report.
Tolerance towards LGBT+ people was measured according to responses to a Gallup poll that asked more than 130,000 people around the world whether their city or area was a good place for gay and lesbian people to live.
Top-ranking Iceland was followed by The Netherlands and Norway in the 2019 index, while Canada and Denmark took fourth and fifth place respectively.
Several of the least tolerant countries criminalise homosexuality, with penalties including a potential death sentence for men in Mauritania and Somalia, both in the bottom five.
However, legality did not always equal acceptance - lowest-ranked Tajikistan decriminalised gay sex in 1998 but LGBT+ people still face widespread discrimination.
It was followed by Somalia, Azerbaijan, Senegal and Mauritania in second to fourth last place respectively. (Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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