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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
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
 
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