Cohen, who is second in all-time scoring for England, said Atlanta was the perfect place to launch his US tour.

“Atlanta is a city built on equality and respect for diversity, including one of America’s largest and most vibrant LGBT communities,” Cohen said in a statement. “I am honored to launch the tour in Atlanta and with the Bucks.”

The tour comes to Atlanta on May 19 with a series of fundraisers and meet-and-greets to be held through May 22. Tickets to all events  go on sale March 28  at www.atlantabucksrugby.org.

Cohen’s schedule in Atlanta includes:

• Pub meet-and-greet for fans
• Private cocktail reception and charity auction
• A day of rugby with Ben Cohen for regional rugby clubs
• Speaking events, photo opportunities and autograph sessions

“I am passionate about standing up against homophobia and feel compelled to take action. It is time we stand up for what is right and support young people who are being harmed,” Cohen said in a statement.

“As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies. We must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it. It is right to stand up for equality and stand up against bullying,” he added.

On his website Cohen states, “I believe that every person on this planet has a right to be true to themselves, to love and be loved and to be happy. That’s what we all want. I am in a privileged position to be able to spread some important messages across the globe — and that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

Cohen is currently not playing on a team and has said he will retire if he cannot find a team soon. He is married and has twin toddler daughters.

Cohen currently has more than 130,000 fans on his Facebook page and nearly 12,000 fans on Twitter.

The Atlanta Bucks were founded in 2003 as one of the first IGRAB (International Gay Rugby Association and Board) teams in the US.

The team’s mission is “to provide a fraternal environment, without discrimination, for gay and diverse communities, to participate in the sport of rugby.”

The Atlanta Bucks won the New York East Coast Invitational in 2006 and the Bingham Cup Bowl Division in Dublin in 2008. The Bingham Cub was named for  Mark Bingham, a gay former University of California, Berkeley rugby star who was on board United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11. Bingham was part of a group of passengers who fought against the terrorists to crash the plane into a vacant field in Pennsylvania instead of a Washington, D.C., target.

 

Top photo: International rugby superstar Ben Cohen (publicity photo)

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