|Malawi made world headlines in 2010 when two gay men were arrested for getting married. Steven Monjeza, left, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga|
The move follows a pledge by the country's new president Joyce Banda to lift the ban on homosexuality shortly after coming to office following the death of her predecessor in April, as part of her campaign to normalise relations with development partners including Britain.
The move was a bold one in the socially-conservative nation. If the laws are repealed, Malawi would become the first country since 1994 to decriminalise same-sex relations.
On Monday, Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara said the moratorium on Malawi's anti-gay laws, which see sexual conduct between men punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, would remain in place until parliament voted on a new law.
In the meantime, police have been told not to arrest anyone engaged in homosexual activity.
"If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to government," he told Reuters.
"It is better to let one criminal get away with it rather than throw a lot of innocent people in jail."
Homosexuality is banned in 37 African states and in some countries, including Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria, it is punishable by death.
Malawi made world headlines in 2010 when two gay men were arrested for getting married. Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested and locked up for five months during their trial and after their conviction, until President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them on May 29 amid international outrage and protests.
Noel Kututwa, southern Africa Director for Amnesty International, applauded the latest announcement as a step towards repealing the law.
"We urge the government not to lose momentum on this basic human rights issue and to ensure the full repeal of these discriminatory and hate-filled laws," he said.