A Sydney nightclub has introduced new rules which require "verbal consent" before interacting with other patrons, and that includes "staring at someone from afar."
Club 77 in Darlinghurst says it "operates a zero-tolerance policy on harassment" and hope the new policy will create a "safer and truly open space."
But while some people are grateful for the new rules, others are questioning its seemingly extreme nature.
The venue announced the rules in a lengthy Instagram post earlier this month. They said a trained "safety officer" in a fluorescent vest will see that the new rules are being followed.
"If you’re being harassed by another person or receiving unwanted attention, please seek them out or tell our staff immediately," they wrote.
"This also applies if you are, for example, staring at someone from afar. If the attention you are giving someone is unwarranted, that is considered harassment."
'Police will be called' on rule-breakers
The club confirmed that interactions between patrons should have prior verbal consent and that a patron who made another guest "feel uncomfortable" would be kicked out. Police will also be called.
"We do this to make everyone feel safe and to ensure our patrons are comfortable approaching staff if anything has made them uncomfortable or feel unsafe," they continued.
"Club 77 is committed to developing and nurturing a strong culture of consent. We encourage feedback on how we can continue to improve and ask all our community to please help us improve our space."
Social media divided over 'extreme' policy
The post, which was also shared on Facebook, was met with mixed views by the public.
While most praised the venue for encouraging a "positive party culture" others weren't so accepting.
"You wouldn't want to be 'staring at someone' & all of sudden the police are called," one person said.
"So extreme!! Everyone look on the floor now. Ommggg where is the world going !!!" another mocked on Facebook.
"It's pathetic really," they added.
Another hit back to say "it's not extreme, it is responsible."
"Good on 77 for calling out that kind of behaviour and creating a safe space for all," they said.
While another said "safety officers don't have the training they should have", arguing "they are just glorified bouncers."
Expert questions new policy
Despite some backlash, club owner Dane Gorrel told The Daily Telegraph "the response to it has been extremely positive."
"People want to go out, they want to feel safe, they don’t want people chasing after them," he said.
Clinical psychotherapist Melissa Ferrari invites conversations around consent, but said eye contact with someone is vital when looking for a partner.
"Realistically we fall in love through the eyes, when a whole lot of conditions are put on that, it puts a lot of restrictions on how we meet somebody," she told the publication.
"I think it is a question everyone is asking, are we going too far around consent? If you can’t look across the room at someone to let them know you're interested, it means you have to go up to them physically, invade their space."
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