|President Joyce Banda has said she wants to overturn Malawi's ban on homosexuality|
Malawi has suspended laws against same-sex relationships pending a decision on whether to repeal the legislation, the justice minister has said.Police have been ordered not to arrest or prosecute homosexuals until parliament has debated the issue, said Ralph Kasambara.
At present, homosexual acts carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.
Some Western leaders have suggested they would cut aid to African countries failing to recognise gay rights.
Homosexuality is illegal in most African nations and remains a controversial topic in Malawi's traditionally conservative society.
One of Malawi's most influential traditional leaders, Chief Kaomba, has urged the government not to let parliament change its laws on homosexuality.
"This is against our culture," he said.
The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Malawi's main city, Blantyre, says repealing the legislation would be an unpopular move with many church leaders, as well as the wider population.