06/12/2016 03:25 EDT | Updated 06/13/2016 12:59 EDT

Rob Oliphant, Gay Liberal MP, Speaks Out After Deadly Orlando Nightclub Shooting

"We can't justify one hate by putting in another one."

A gay Toronto MP was compelled to speak out after a deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. left dozens dead and dozens more injured.

Don Valley West MP Rob Oliphant tweeted about the shooting on Sunday morning.

Oliphant told The Huffington Post Canada he was feeling "sombre."

The Liberal MP said when he was younger, he went to gay nightclubs and wondered if doing so would make him the target of a "crazy person."

'Hate is hate'

An FBI agent said the suspect may have had leanings toward extreme Islamic ideologies.

But Oliphant said he believes the shooting is an issue of mental illness. He said when he heard about the violence, he immediately thought of his Muslim constituents.

"I realize that this is not only affecting me, but it's affecting them as well, that they will be upset, some will be angry at what has happened," he said in a phone interview.

"And while they try to hold on to their faith, it's being abused and used by others and this raises that issue."

Don Valley West MP Rob Oliphant is openly gay. (Photo: CP)

The shooting brings up issues of mental health, homophobia, and Islamophobia, Oliphant said.

"Hate is hate. We can't justify one hate by putting in another one."

Constituents with deep religious convictions

Oliphant said there are more than 25,000 Muslim constituents in his Toronto riding, and many hold deep religious convictions.

A school in the area, Thorncliffe Park Elementary, made headlines after hundreds of students stayed home from school to protest Ontario's new sex-ed curriculum.

But Oliphant said he has always received an outpouring of support from that particular part of his riding.

"Hate is hate. We can't justify one hate by putting in another one."

He was first elected in 2008, and held the seat until 2011, when he was defeated by Conservative John Carmichael.

"When I first started in Don Valley West, there was a nervousness among the Muslim communities, but no more so than among the Christian communities in the riding," he said.

He said he was re-elected in October 2015 "vote by vote."

"These are Muslims who knew I was a gay man," he said.

Oliphant said he has received death threats as a gay man and as a politician, but the community has stuck with him and listened to what he has to say- trusting him to be the "person who stands up with us."

"They understand that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects them is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects me, and we're in this together."

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