Sharing a link to a gofundme page, Jessen tweeted: ‘Dear all. I’m very grateful for your messages of support and encouragement following the recent news.
‘Would you please retweet and support me via my GoFundMe page? I have put more details there and I’ll keep you updated. Big hugs C.’
He added on the website: ‘On 28 January 2020 the First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster issued libel proceedings against me over a tweet I published in December 2019 which the High Court has held as defamatory.
‘I gave evidence to the court about my mental health and personal circumstances over the last year but was ordered to pay libel damages and full indemnity legal costs incurred by her, which are substantial. I am considering an appeal and I am seeking to raise funds to help me fight what is a most unfair situation and I do not agree with the judgement.
‘As a practising doctor and humanist with a public profile, I have fought hard to ensure LGBTQ+ rights are recognised and upheld around the world and I am proud to have been involved in many prominent campaigns bringing positive change to marriage equality, blood donation rules, women’s abortion rights, and recognising and reducing HIV stigma.
‘I made a documentary “Cure Me I’m Gay” which explored conversion therapies, exposing them as ineffective and in many cases harmful. Unfortunately these sham therapies are still being pushed by many religious groups. I will continue to campaign against them.’
Jessen added that he was an advocate for HIV education and testing, and continued: ‘As these legal proceedings have involved some very personal issues and revelations, any monies raised surplus to the costs will be donated to relevant charities.
‘The last year or so has been very difficult for me as I have struggled with some serious mental health problems and knowing I have your support is hugely encouraging and affirming. I’m very grateful. C x’
Dr Christian was ordered to pay damages in the High Court in Belfast on Thursday.
Delivering his statement, Mr Justice McAlinden said: ‘To state that a woman married for 25-and-a-half years and a mother of three children, who is a committed Christian and who is recognised as such, and who has publicly made statements extolling the importance and sanctity of marriage, who also happens to be the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and a holder of the office of First Minister of Northern Ireland, was an adulterer, a hypocrite and a homophobe is a most serious libel and is grossly defamatory.
‘It is an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing, attacking her integrity at the most fundamental level, and it involves the trashing in a very public fashion of the relationship that Mrs Foster holds dearest in her life.
‘It affected core aspects of her life, namely her relationship with her husband, her deep Christian faith, it called into question her fitness and suitability to occupy the office of First Minister at a time when delicate negotiations were continuing on the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive.
‘In short, I consider that it was an outrageously bad libel.’
In evidence, the DUP leader had told how the unsubstantiated claim had ‘trashed’ her 25-year marriage, adding: ‘It was almost as if this cut to the very core of my life.’
She also said the tweet had humiliated her at a time when she was involved in talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland. The judge suggested the timing of the tweet may have been deliberately chosen to undermine the negotiations.
He said: ‘I do not ascribe to the defendant the knowledge of, or interest in Northern Ireland politics which would be a prerequisite to giving any detailed consideration to the possibility that the timing of this tweet was intended to influence the outcome of the negotiations.
‘However, in respect of the anonymous tweets which preceded the defendant’s much more prominent statement, such a motivation cannot be dismissed out of hand.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted a representative for Dr Christian for further comment.