Prominent LGBT rights lawyer dies after setting himself on fire

NYPD car

A prominent LGBT rights lawyer and environmental advocate was found dead in New York on Saturday (April 14), after reportedly setting himself on fire using fossil fuel in a protest against ecological destruction.

An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the suicide of 60-year-old David Buckel, who was found by passers-by in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Police said he was pronounced dead at about 6.30am.

According to the New York Daily News, Buckel left a handwritten note at the scene, which said he’d self-immolated with fossil fuel in a protest against the environment’s destruction.

David Buckel (Photo: YouTube)

“My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide. I apologize to you for the mess,” the note reportedly read.

Buckel also reportedly attached a typed note explaining his actions, as well as his business card.

“My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves,” he wrote.

Buckel, a graduate of Cornell Law School, fought for marriage equality and served as project director at Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights organisation.

He was the lead attorney in a lawsuit regarding transgender man Brandon Teena, who was murdered in Nebraska in 1993. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her role as Teena in the 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry.

Camilla Taylor – Lambda Legal’s director of constitutional litigation and acting legal director – said in a statement: “The news of David’s death is heartbreaking. This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice.

“David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many. He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion, and vision for justice.”

Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry (Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The statement continued: “Our hearts go out to all who knew David. He was a beautiful human being who was universally kind to everyone at Lambda Legal, committed to his clients, and devoted to our work.”

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to all those who loved David. We have lost a movement leader, a colleague, and a friend. We will honor his life by continuing his fight for a better world,” Taylor wrote.