America

LGBT lawyer dies after setting himself on fire

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The body of a prominent gay rights lawyer and environmental activist has been found after he burned himself to death in protest against climate change.

Members of the public discovered the remains of David Buckel in a New York park, with the 60-year-old reportedly leaving a suicide note in a nearby shopping trolley.

According to the New York Daily News, the note said he hoped his death was "honourable" and "might serve others".

The New York Times said it received an emailed copy of Mr Buckel's note, in which he said: "Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather.

"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."

He also talked about the difficulty of improving the world even for those who make an effort to do so and noted that privilege was derived from the suffering of others.

"Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help," he added.

The lawyer had risen to prominence as the lead attorney in a lawsuit involving a transgender man, Brandon Teena, who was murdered in 1993 and whose story was made into the 1999 film Boy's Don't Cry starring Hilary Swank.

He also worked as a marriage project director at LGBT rights group Lambda Legal and worked on same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa.

Former colleague and lawyer Susan Sommer told the New York Times Mr Buckel was "all about justice, but he was also all about what it means to be human".

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She added: "He was a very smart and methodical lawyer. He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory."

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.

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