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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Dobelle's hate-crime stance is weak, group says

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle said yesterday the university will not tolerate intimidation of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A commission representing members of the "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex" (LGBTI) communities on campus has been pressing Dobelle for a policy statement, in the wake of alleged assaults on two students.

Ku'umealoha Gomes, chairwoman for the commission, said last night Dobelle's statement was not strong enough, partly because it did not require expulsion of any student or employee who behaves in a way intended to cause physical harm to another because of gender identity or sexual orientation.

In his statement, Dobelle said that in recent months a few members of the LGBTI community "have been subjected to hate crimes, assaults and insensitive comments."

Dobelle said, "I deeply regret that these incidents have occurred and commit the full force of the office of the President to ensure that (they) ... do not continue."

Dobelle could not be reached for further comment. But Amy Agbayani, liaison to the LGBTI community, said the reference appeared to be regarding the two residence hall incidents, the most recent of which is still under investigation.

In one case last spring, a transgendered student was apparently struck by an unknown assailant in a residence hall. The more recent case allegedly involved a similar physical assault, Agbayani said.

There have also been a number of cases of insensitive or hateful graffiti, Gomes said.

Dobelle praised a number of university programs dealing with the issues and urged students and employees to participate in diversity and civil rights workshops that will be offered next year.

Reach Walter Wright at wwright@honoluluadvertiser.com.