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Joyce Banda says laws criminalising homosexuality may be scrapped in what is seen as attempt to appease Western donors.
Decision expected to help southern African nation overcome shortage of foreign currency needed to import fuel.
People expect new president to create jobs and attract foreign investment.
Former vice-president takes over as leader, following the death in office of President Bingu wa Mutharika two days ago.
Banda was ousted from ruling party but retained her position as VP of Malawi, making her leader after president's death.
No official word yet on successor as state radio confirms Bingu wa Mutharika's passing, after reported heart attack.
Medical sources say Bingu wa Mutharika suffered fatal heart attack, though 78-year-old's death not officially announced.
Bingu wa Mutharika asks supporters to "step in and defend" him as he struggles with aid freeze and opposition pressure.
Recent protests across Malawi saw 19 people killed, but the government has blamed the victims for their deaths.
Leaders of anti-government protests say Bingu wa Mutharika has until August 16 to address their grievances.
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Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
 
 
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