File picture. Brian Snyder/REUTERS.

Singapore - A colonial-era law that criminalises consensual sex between men should not be repealed in the "present circumstances," said Singapore's archbishop late Tuesday.

The statement sees William Goh wade into a firestorm of a debate that has seen supporters and opponents taking stronger and stronger stands about gay rights in the city-state.

Under Section 377A of Singapore's Penal Code, a man found to have committed an act of "gross indecency" with another man can be jailed for up to two years.

Despite having been rarely enforced, it has remained on the law books long after the end of British colonial rule.

In the letter, which was addressed to the Catholic community and published on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore website, Goh said he would not object to a repeal "if it were merely aimed at removing all potential criminal penalties against homosexuals."

But he said he worried such a move would only be a first step. He said there must be "no further demands... to legalize same-sex unions, same-sex adoption of babies, surrogacy, or to criminalise those who do not support the homosexual lifestyle.

"I am of the view that S377A should not be repealed under the present circumstances."

The repeal debate was reignited after the Indian Supreme Court's recent move to strike down a similar law, saying it has been a "weapon for harassment for the LGBT community."

The letter comes a week after a Singaporean man mounted a legal challenge against Section 377A, arguing it was inconsistent with parts of the Constitution that stipulated personal liberty and equal protection.