BRITISH COLUMBIA

Abbotsford Pride Parade A First For 'Bible Belt' Region

05/26/2013 12:32 EDT | Updated 07/25/2013 05:12 EDT
Getty Images
An activist's silhouette is seen through a rainbow flag during a Gay Parade in Kiev on May 25, 2013. Around a hundred gay rights activists marched in Ukraine on Saturday despite fears of violence and a court ban, marking the first gay pride event in the ex-Soviet country, where homophobia is widespread and generally accepted. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of people marched together in B.C.'s Bible Belt to celebrate Abbotsford's first-ever pride parade on Saturday.

Fraser Valley Pride attracted upwards of 500 people to the family-friendly event, Cst. Ian MacDonald told HuffPost B.C. No major incidents were reported.

Organized by Fraser Valley Youth, an Abbotsford-based non-profit, participants marched from the Matsqui Recreation Centre to Civic Plaza.

Efforts to organize pride marches in previous years have been met with strong opposition by the Fraser Valley's conservative residents. There are at least 94 known churches for the region's 130,000 residents, according to the Abbotsford Christian Leader's Network.

A pride parade organized by area high school students was cancelled five years ago due to online backlash, Xtra reported. Peaceful "Walk Away From Homophobia" marches have been held annually since.

In 2008, religious groups also lobbied the school board to scrap an elective high school social justice course that covered topics like homosexuality, homophobia, and gender discrimination.

After a human rights complaint was lodged against the school board, officials decided parental or guardian consent would be required for students to enroll in the controversial course, CBC News reported.

Also on HuffPost

Gay Canadians We Love