Ben Cohen marches at Pride London gay rights parade, explains why he launched the anti-bullying charity
Rugby World Cup winner Ben Cohen was among the one million people who took part in Saturday’s Pride London gay rights parade. The former England wing, who is married and has two children, is a popular figure within the gay community thanks to his stance on bullying.
Speaking at London Pride on Saturday, where he joined the parade, Cohen said his father was murdered in 2000 as he tried to defend someone at a nightclub he owned and that experience triggered Cohen’s decision to speak up for minority groups.
He launched a charity called ‘StandUp’ six years ago to publicise the issue of homophobic, religious and racist bullying, and having retired from rugby now spends much of his time promoting the organisation’s work both in the UK and US.
Cohen explained that his father’s death and his involvement with the charity had inspired him to take part in Pride London.
“My dad was murdered through violence, brutally attacked protecting someone,” he said.
“Fast forward six years, I had a massive gay following that I didn’t realise that I had. A lot of people were writing in to me so I started doing things within that community and saying bullying needs to stop.
“I really wanted to make it easier for people who get bullied and I’m in the privileged position of being a successful sportsman and having a place to speak to people and hopefully people listen.”