English rugby hunk Ben Cohen has auctioned the shirt off his back to raise money for his campaign against homophobia.

Cohen (32) is a former England rugby union international player who now plays for Sale Sharks and has been a long time supporter of the LGBT community.

Last week he launched ‘The Ben Cohen Acceptance Tour’, his US tour to combat homophobia starting in May, with a meet-and-greet event titled ‘Beer with Ben in the UK’.

At the event, which was held at the Taurus bar, on Manchester’s famous gay Canal Street, Cohen answered questions about the tour and his message of tolerance and acceptance.

Wearing a “I Stand Up with Ben Cohen” T shirt, he explained why he felt compelled to ‘Stand Up’ against homophobia and bullying and how it was time to ‘Stand Up’ for tolerance, equality and love.

“If we save one person’s life, or get someone to think different, then I’m doing a good job,” he said.

The evening ended with a fund-raising auction in aid of the tour, climaxing with literally auctioning the ‘shirt off Ben’s back’.

In a 2009 interview with Attitude magazine, Cohen said: “I enjoy being round gay people. I find I get on better with them than straight people.”

Cohen is an England Rugby World Cup Winner and has achieved 57 caps for his country and is second in the all time try scoring record for England.

He is married to Abby and they have twin daughters, Harriette and Isabelle. The family live in rural Northamptonshire.

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