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Lawyer burns himself to death in climate protest

‘Honour’: David Buckel

A HIGH-PROFILE gay rights lawyer has burned himself to death in New York in a protest against environmental destruction caused by fossil fuels.

The remains of 60-year-old David Buckel were found by passers-by in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on Saturday.

Mr Buckel reportedly left a suicide note in a shopping cart near his body that said he hoped his death was ‘honourable’ and ‘might serve others’.

The New York Times revealed it had received an emailed copy of the note, which also said: ‘Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.’

Mr Buckel was the leading lawyer in a case involving Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Teena in the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry. Mr Buckel also served as marriage project director at Lambda Legal, a national organisation that fights for LGBT rights. He was the strategist for same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa.

Susan Sommer, a former Lambda Legal lawyer who is now the general counsel for the mayor’s office of criminal justice in New York City, told the Times Mr Buckel ‘was a very smart and methodical lawyer’. She said he ‘was all about justice, but he was also all about what it means to be human’.