Gay rights lawyer burns himself to death in protest against fossil fuels

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A nationally known gay rights attorney and green activist set himself on fire and burned to death in Prospect Park early Saturday in a freakish ecological protest suicide.

The charred remains of 60-year-old David Buckel were found by passers-by in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, New York City on Saturday.

He left a suicide note in a shopping cart near the body and emailed several news media outlets, according to the New York Times.

Buckel noted in his letter that he was fortunate to have "good health to the final moment", and added that he hoped his death would lead to increased action on environmental concerns.

Mr Buckel was the lead attorney in a case involving Brandon Teena, a transgender man murdered in the USA state of Nebraska.

The 1999 film Boys Don't Cry, starring Hilary Swank, who won an Oscar for the role, was based on Teena's story.

He also served as marriage project director at Lambda Legal, a national organisation that fights for LGBT rights, where he was the strategist behind same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa.

The note was left in an envelope labeled "for the police".

New York Daily News notes that Buckel also argued against Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay leaders and for the establishment of a Utah high school's gay student club.

"Honorable objective in life invites honorable goal in death", he concluded.

LGBT lawyer David Buckel set himself on fire as a sign of protest.

"Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard".

He represented Brandon Teena's mother in a lawsuit against the New England sheriff which notified Teena's rapists that he had pressed charges and did nothing to protect him from being killed.

The Brooklyn man was burned from head to toe by the time the FDNY arrived.

Buckel ran the NYC Composting Project out of Red Hook Community Farm.

'We were a little freaked out.

Tributes have begun to pour in for Buckel, with Lambda Legal calling his death a loss for the "entire movement for social justice". It took us a little while to process it, ' she said. In normally vibrant Prospect Park, where Buckel ended his life, police and firefighters gathered around what the Times calls a "grim scene".