David Buckel, a 60-year-old renowned gay rights lawyer and environmental advocate, set himself ablaze in New York on Saturday, April 14, to protest against ecological devastation.
Buckel's charred remains were discovered by passers-by in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
Several news organisations received an emailed copy of a suicide note by Buckel which said most people on the planet were breathing air which was unhealthy because of fossil fuels and many die early because of it. "My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves," the note said. Buckel used fossil fuel for self-immolation.
According to Daily News, the noted lawyer left the suicide note in a shopping cart near his body hoping it "might serve others". In the note, Buckel said: "I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide," the report said.
Buckel was the lead lawyer in a lawsuit in connection to Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was brutally murdered in Nebraska in 1993. In 1999, the film Boys Don't Cry in which actress Hillary Swank portrayed as Teena and won an Academy Award, got released.
Buckel was also the marriage project director at Lambda Legal, an organisation which fights for gay rights. He was the strategy-maker for same-sex marriage cases in Iowa and New Jersey.
Lambda Legal's director Camilla Taylor, while speaking to the Huffington Post, called Buckel a "legal visionary" who did thoughtful and engaging advocacy that challenged and broke several stubborn misconceptions and showed that it was possible to speak up in support of the bullied, ostracised LGBT youth.