Georgetown University announced yesterday that it will give "equal treatment" to homosexual student groups and agreed to provide a $3,740 subsidy to a gay group at its law school.

The announcement comes after almost three months of wrangling over the interpretation of a D.C. Court of Appeals ruling that the university must offer homosexual organizations the same "tangible benefits" as other student groups, although it did not have to "officially recognize" them. The university has said that assisting homosexual organizations would "violate its conscience" as a Roman Catholic institution because church teachings condemn homosexual acts.

Georgetown's decision follows by a day an announcement by the D.C. Office of Human Rights that it will launch a "major investigation" into the university's treatment of homosexual groups after three students complained that Georgetown had not fully complied with the court ruling. University spokesman Gary Krull said the action had "nothing to do" with the Human Rights Office investigation. He said the decision was made before the university learned of the probe.

Krull said the decision "does not prejudice our ability to file" a formal request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Last month, the high court twice rejected Georgetown's request to stay the appeals court ruling.

Yesterday a university source said, "We didn't get the stay, so we have to give them whatever it is we have to give them." The university's board of directors is scheduled to meet March 17 to decide whether to ask for a formal Supreme Court review. The high court has given Georgetown until April 1 to do so.

Yesterday, Krull said Georgetown will give gay organizations on its law school and main campus "the same things it offers to any group." He said it will not restrict assistance, as it has said in the past, to the four items specifically mentioned by the appeals court: a mailbox, computerized label service, mailing services and an opportunity to apply for university funds.

Law school Dean Robert Pitofsky said the broader list of services and facilities that will be available to the Lesbian and Gay Association of Georgetown University Law Students includes photocopying, telephones, stationery, meeting and party rooms, and offices, although office space might not be available this semester because of crowding. The other homosexual organization affected by yesterday's announcement is The Gay People of Georgetown University, on the main campus.

Richard A. Gross, a lawyer for the student groups, confirmed that university officials had told him Wednesday -- before the human rights office announced its probe -- that "Georgetown will provide {the gay groups with} all the benefits available to any other groups." In a letter yesterday, Gross informed D.C. Superior Court Judge Sylvia Bacon of that assurance. He asked her to delay consideration of the students' request for a temporary restraining order, requiring compliance with the appeals court ruling, which had been scheduled for a hearing yesterday afternoon but which was canceled.

Maudine Cooper, the director of the D.C. Human Rights Office, said she is "pleased that Georgetown is moving in the right direction." She said her agency may be able to conclude its investigation quickly if Georgetown provides evidence that it is complying with the D.C. Human Rights Act, which includes a ban on discrimination based on "sexual orientation."

Krull said a request for a $4,000 subsidy for Gay People of Georgetown is pending before a student government committee and administrators. He said he expected approval soon.

Julia Leighton, an official of the Lesbian and Gay Association of Georgetown University Law Students, said her group had no formal membership list but that it generally attracts 10 people to regular meetings, 25 to 30 to meetings with speakers, and up to 100 to parties.

In his letter to her yesterday, Pitofsky said the $3,740 budget for the current semester "is large compared to susbsidies of other student groups" but warranted by "special circumstances." The group said a large part of the funds will be used for forums to air issues about its existence on campus.