MARI YAMAGUCHI 

TOKYO (AP) -- A Japanese court has ruled that the country's ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, and rejected demands for compensation by three couples who said their right to free union and equality has been violated.

The Osaka District Court ruling is the second decision on the issue, and disagrees with a ruling last year by a Sapporo court that found the ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional.

It underscores how divisive the issue remains in Japan, the only member of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations that does not recognize same-sex unions.

Support for sexual diversity has grown slowly in Japan, but legal protections are still lacking.